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Child Custody: A Guide to Supervised Visitation in Illinois

In Illinois, courts have the authority to put restrictions on parental access to protect the best interests of the child. The concept is sometimes referred to colloquially as ‘supervised visitation.’ However, the state technically no longer uses the term ‘visitation’ in official legal proceedings. Instead, the term “allocation of parenting time” is used. Here, our Naperville and Bolingbrook child custody lawyers explain key things parents need to know about supervised visitation in Illinois.

The Standard: Best Interests of the Child

As a starting point, it is crucial to emphasize Illinois uses the best interests of the child standard when allocating parental rights and parental responsibilities. What is deemed best for the child’s health, safety, and well-being will always come first. The rights and desires of the parents are always a secondary consideration. An Illinois family law court will not hesitate to impose supervised visitation if doing so is deemed necessary to protect the best interests of the child.

Illinois Law Gives Court Discretion to Protect Children

Illinois courts have considerable discretion to put restrictions and limitations on parenting time. They will not do so without due process to the parents. A court will not require supervised parenting time simply because one parent believes it to be necessary. Good cause must be demonstrated.

As a rule, supervised parenting time (supervised visitation) will only be imposed after a court hearing during which a judge determines a child’s physical or emotional well-being will be “endangered” if a parent gets unsupervised, unstructured time. Usually, this is because of evidence of prior child abuse, domestic abuse, child neglect, or substance abuse.

Supervised Visitation: Defined

What supervised visitation means in practice can vary considerably. Under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/600(m)), the term ‘supervision’ is defined in a relatively broad manner. It simply means “the presence of a third party during a parent’s exercise of parenting time.” When required, supervised visitation falls into one of two categories:

  1. A court-appointed professional (therapist, social worker, etc.) will be present with the parent and child during their visits; or
  2. An agreed-upon, trusted family member or friend will be present with the parent and child during their visits.

The option that makes the most sense will depend on the specific circumstances at hand. In some cases, both parents may agree that supervised visitation is warranted. Working together in a collaborative manner, they may be able to agree that a trusted relative (such as a grandparent) can serve as the supervisor. In other cases, it is best to seek professional help and support.

Call Our Illinois Child Custody Attorneys for Immediate Help

At Keller Legal Services, our Naperville and Bolingbrook family lawyers have extensive experience handling complex child custody cases. If you have questions or concerns about supervised visitation, we are here to help. For a completely private initial consultation, please contact us today. With offices in Naperville and Bolingbrook, we represent parents throughout Northern Illinois.