Unfortunately, many separated parents don’t see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to making decisions about their children. Because child custody can be an intense subject, many parents make decisions based on emotions rather than facts. This makes it easy for certain questions to arise, and many of our clients wonder, “Can a father keep a child away from the mother in Illinois?”

In Illinois, visitation is often referred to as “parenting time” and is determined by the court system on a case-by-case basis. After a custody plan has been established, neither parent has the right to alter that plan on his/her own. This means that a father does not have the legal right to keep a child away from the mother, unless in case of emergency or if he believes the child’s safety is at risk. For assistance navigating cases like these, consult our Chicago family lawyers.

Overview of Child Custody Laws in Illinois

In Illinois, mothers and fathers begin with equal parenting rights once paternity has been established. Once a petition for custody is filed, parents may undergo mediation to determine a parenting plan that includes details such as placement and the allocation of responsibilities. Illinois does not favor mothers over fathers and instead focuses on what is in the best interest of the child(ren).

Can a father keep a child away from the mother in Illinois?

Factors Considered When Determining Child Custody in Illinois

In Illinois, the court must consider the “best interests” of a child when making any legal decisions that involve them. To properly consider their best interests, a judge must look at a wide range of factors. These factors include:

  • The child’s preferences
  • Both parents’ wishes
  • The child’s adjustment to their home/potential new home
  • The mental and physical health of the child and each parent
  • The child’s specific medical or educational needs
  • Safety issues, such as a history of violence or abuse
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster a healthy relationship between the child
  • Parents’ schedules
  • The distance between each parent’s residence

What Are a Father’s Rights in Illinois?

Fathers’ rights are the legal rights given to a father that allow him to spend time with his child, make decisions on their behalf, and play a role in their life. In Illinois, a father does not have rights until he establishes paternity. To establish paternity in Illinois, you must do one of the following:

  • Be married to the child’s mother and sign the birth certificate at birth.
  • Sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form in the hospital if you’re unwed.
  • Sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form later at the county clerk’s office, local DHS office, or registrar of vital records.
  • Fathers may also request a DNA test to establish paternity by proving they are the biological father and then filing the appropriate forms.

Can a Father Deny Visitation to the Child’s Mother in Illinois?

Wrongfully denying visitation to the noncustodial parent is against Illinois state law and can have civil or criminal consequences. In most cases where danger is not an issue, the parent who deprives the other of their court-mandated visitation will be charged with contempt of court. However, a father may be able to deny visitation if he believes contact with the mother could result in some sort of harm to the child.

It is smart to consult an experienced Chicago family lawyer before you attempt to change or ignore a child custody agreement. This is to ensure you don’t make the situation more complicated and ultimately lose rights to your child. Talk to one of our skilled child custody lawyers to learn more about a father’s rights in Illinois.


Q: What Is It Called When a Parent Keeps a Child Away From the Other Parent?

A: If a parent denies the other parent visitation, this means that the parent made a conscious decision to break a court-ordered custody agreement. If that parent also attempts to keep that child away from their other parent and makes the child dislike them, this is known as parental alienation. Because child custody is handled by local family courts, you can receive consequences if you deny visitation or are found attempting parental alienation.

Q: Can One Parent Keep a Child From the Other Parent Without Court Orders in Illinois?

A: The state of Illinois generally assumes an equal split of parenting time and rights. Illinois does not favor one parent over the other as long as paternity has been established. Once a court order has been established, both parents must abide by the court-ordered agreement. One parent cannot make the sole decision to make changes to the agreement or keep the child from the other parent unless he/she can prove that they are protecting the child from harm.

Q: What to Do When the Mother Won’t Let You See Your Child?

A: If your child’s mother is refusing to let you see your child, you should consider the emotional well-being of your child first and foremost. You should try to avoid arguments in front of the child and remain as calm as possible. From there, you should reach out to your family lawyer immediately. They can either set up a mediation meeting or help you file a claim against your ex in court.

Q: How Do You Deal with an Uncooperative Co-Parent in Illinois?

A: Mediation is a great way to deal with an uncooperative co-parent. A non-biased third party can help settle the emotions between you and your co-parent so that you can keep your child’s best interest in mind at all times. Unless substantial danger to the child is imminent, it is smart not to deny custody to your child’s parent, as this can result in legal repercussions. Your attorney can help you settle these disagreements in a constructive, legal manner.

Hire a Chicago Family Lawyer from Stange Law Firm

Navigating child custody after a divorce, separation, or breakup can be difficult. Knowing your rights is crucial to making sound legal decisions. Our experienced attorneys at Stange Law Firm can help you navigate or initiate custody arrangements so that your child’s best interest is always centered. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.