If I’m not following a visitation plan, what kind of trouble can I get into?

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If I’m not following a visitation plan, what kind of trouble can I get into?

In my divorce decree, I have full custody and the father has reasonable visitation. No specifics are given as to what is reasonable. The bio-dad pretty much comes and goes as he pleases. For the best interests of our child, I try my best to communicate with him to set up a plan for visitation that would work out for all of us but he doesn’t seem to want to comply. I don’t allow the visitation because bio-dad is not providing stability for our child. What trouble am I causing for myself? Also, can I take him to court so the courts can make up a more specific visitation plan?

Asked on September 4, 2012 under Family Law, Illinois

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It's somewhat unusual for a divorce decree to read "reasonable visitation."  Most courts like to set out a standardized routine for the peace of the parties and to help children get fair access to both parents.  "Reasonable" can be a very subjective standard-- so it's going to be difficult for either party to enforce what is reasonable, so it doesn't appear that you'll get in much trouble at this point if he complains about non-compliance as long as you are making efforts to give him access.  You can only get in trouble if you completely cut off all access.  The court could hold you in contempt which could involve paying money, paying attorney's fees for your ex-, jail time, or the judge awarding him makeup visitations days.

Your idea of taking him back to court to request a more specific visitation plan is really your best course of action.  It will protect both of you from any allegations of contempt for interfering with child custody.  It will also be better for your children because it will give them a better routine to follow.


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