Posted on January 28, 2023

Can A Parent Demand To Visit An Adult Child In Illinois?

Parents get time with their children during and after an Illinois divorce.

“Unless the parents present a mutually agreed written parenting plan and that plan is approved by the court, the court shall allocate parenting time.” 750 ILCS 5/602.7

Parenting plans dictate the schedule of a minor child.

“Parenting plan contents. At a minimum, a parenting plan must set forth the following:…provisions for the child’s living arrangements…and for each parent’s parenting time, including either: a schedule that designates in which parent’s…home the minor child will reside on given days.” 750 ILCS 5/602.7(f)(emphasis mine)

A court order to see a child is one thing. Enforcing a child visitation order and actually spending time with the child is another.

Exercising parenting time both becomes easier and harder as a child gets older. A parent can simply text their teenage child (they hate phone calls) and ask to spend time with the child. If the child wishes to spend time with that parent…what is the other parent going to do?

The reverse is also true, however. If a teenage child does not wish to spend time with a parent…there is little that can be done to force that adult-sized child to spend time with the other parent.

The parent the child willingly spends time with must encourage the child to spend time with the other parent pursuant to the Allocation of Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities.

“Illinois courts have held that a custodial parent may not disregard the visitation requirements of a dissolution judgment merely because his or her children do not desire to visit the noncustodial parent. Where a dissolution judgment places the ultimate responsibility for compliance with the visitation provisions upon the custodial parent, the custodial parent cannot escape his or her duty to comply with the visitation provisions by attempting to shift this burden to the discretion of his or her children. A parent must comply with court-ordered visitation even where the child has expressed hostility toward the other parent.” In re Marriage of Charous, 855 NE 2d 953 – Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 2006 (citations and quotations omitted)

When a child refuses to visit a parent and there is nothing that the other parent can realistically do to encourage visitation with a stubborn child, that other parent will NOT be punished by the courts.

“[A]n alleged contemnor cannot be held in contempt when he or she is unable to comply through no fault of his or her own” In re Marriage of Tatham, 688 NE 2d 864 – Ill: Appellate Court, 5th Dist. 1997

Of course, enforcement of parenting time only applies to children. Once a child is 18, they are no longer a child and parenting time orders no longe

“[T]he age of majority in Illinois is 18” In re EG, 549 NE 2d 322 – Ill: Supreme Court 1989

“Minor” means a person…under the age of 18 years” 750 ILCS 30/3-1

“In Illinois, a child who attains the age of 18 years is of legal age.” In re Marriage of Donahoe, 448 NE 2d 1030 – Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1983

The right to visit a child is not to be confused with the fact that child support can continue beyond age 18. For child support ONLY, “the term “child” shall include any child under age 18 and any child age 19 or younger who is still attending high school.” 750 ILCS 5/505(a)

Illinois courts will not order adult children to visit their parents or order other adults to enforce/encourage the visitation of an adult child.

An Illinois court “lacks jurisdiction under the Marriage Act to enter a visitation order against a person who has attained majority.” In re Marriage of Casarotto, 736 NE 2d 1169 – Ill: Appellate Court, 1st Dist., 5th Div. 2000

After the child turns 18 there is no way to punish a custodial parent the previous lack of visitations. “Civil contempt is a coercive sanction rather than a punishment for past contumacious conduct. For this reason, a valid purge condition is a necessary part of an indirect civil contempt order. A contemnor must be able to purge the civil contempt by doing that which the court has ordered him to do…Once [a child] turn[s] 18, it bec[omes] impossible for [the other parent] to purge the civil contempt imposed by the circuit court. [A parent] cannot compel [a child who is], an adult, to visit [anyone]. Because [a parent] can no longer compel Katie to visit Geraldine, the rationale for the civil contempt order in this case has been lost.” Felzak v. Hruby, 876 NE 2d 650 – Ill: Supreme Court 2007

Even an adult child who is deemed disabled so that a guardian is appointed to make decisions for the disabled child can refuse to see a parent.

“The guardian shall consider the ward’s current preferences” 755 ILCS 5/11a-17(e)

Sadly, parents who insist on seeing their adult children…it usually ends in an order of protection.

“If the court finds that petitioner has been abused by a family or household member…an order of protection prohibiting the abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall issue” 750 ILCS 60/214

“’Abuse’ means physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation” 750 ILCS 60/103(1)

““Harassment” means knowing conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a purpose that is reasonable under the circumstances; would cause a reasonable person emotional distress; and does cause emotional distress to the petitioner.” 750 ILCS 60/103(7)

Who could disagree that an estranged parent insisting on your attention would not “cause a reasonable person emotional distress?”

If you are trying to connect with an older child…please tread carefully. If your parent or your adult child’s parent is determined to spend time with the child…tell the parent that they missed their chance.

Parenting time disputes are best handled delicately by an experienced divorce lawyer. So, contact my Chicago, Illinois family law firm to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

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Russell Knight

Russell D. Knight has been practicing family law as a Chicago divorce lawyer since 2006. Russell D. Knight amicably resolves tough cases while remaining a strong advocate for his client’s interests.

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