Grandparents and Visitation: What to do if You are Denied Visits
By: M. Scott Gordon
Obtaining a visitation order is a sometimes an uphill climb for grandparents. Although Illinois law explicitly allows grandparents to seek visitation, they must show that a denial of visitation will cause undue mental, emotional, or physical harm to their grandchildren.
But what happens if you successfully obtain an order of visitation—only for your grandchild’s parents to not let you see them? If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, follow these tips.
Document the Denial of Visitation
If you go into court to tell a judge you are being denied visitation, the judge will want proof. Certainly, you can rely on your own sworn testimony. However, you can bolster your case by having a witness confirm that visitation did not take place. Have a friend or family member go with you to the visitation drop-off location.
You can also quickly report the denial of visitation to the police. This will at least generate a police report, which helps support your case somewhat.
Finally, remember to carefully document the dates of missed visitation. You should be able to tell a judge precisely what days were missed. Your case will be much stronger if there is a pattern of denials.
Preserve Communications with the Parents
Parents rarely come right out and admit they are violating a visitation order. Instead, they might have a litany of excuses, such as:
Hold onto all emails and voice mail messages, which will come in handy. Many parents like to switch up their stories when appearing in front of a judge, and you want documented proof of the reason given for why visitation was cancelled.
Consider Seeking Contempt
Willfully disobeying a judge’s orders qualifies as contempt of court. If the judge finds that the parents have willfully denied visitation, then the judge can fine the parents, send them to prison, or issue some other order.
A contempt proceeding is not appropriate in all situations. However, it is a helpful tool for making resistant parents abide by a court ordered visitation schedule. If you would like to discuss your options, meet with a Chicago family lawyer and bring all your evidence that shows the frequency of missed visitation.
Modify the Visitation Order
Another option is to change the visitation order, especially if the current schedule does not work for everyone. Sometimes parents have legitimate reasons why they could not accommodate visitation. You should also modify if you find that you cannot follow the visitation schedule. If possible, you might ask the judge to change visitation so that a new schedule can work for everyone involved.
Denied Visitation? Speak to a Chicago Family Law Attorney Today
Loving grandparents deserve to preserve their bonds with their grandchildren. If you are being denied visitation, please reach out to a Chicago family law attorney to discuss the situation. Gordon & Perlut, LLC offers potential clients a free consultation, which you should schedule today by calling 312-360-0250.