You don’t like how your ex-spouse is treating your kids. Or maybe your ex-spouse owes you child support. When they came to pick up the kids for visitation, you simply told them the children were out. Next thing you know, the police are at your door.

In Illinois, Unlawful Visitation or Parenting Time Interference is a petty offense, punishable by a fine. Interfere repeatedly, however, and you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Interfering is defined as detaining or concealing a child with the intent of depriving someone of their rights in violation of a court order or judgment. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/10-5.5) If police have probable cause to believe that you are interfering, they can give notice for you to appear in court. If you fail to appear, the Court can issue a warrant for your arrest.

You can lawfully withhold visitation, however, if you reasonably believe you must do so to protect your child from imminent physical harm. For example, the other parent arrives completely intoxicated and tries to drive off with the children.

The crime of interfering with visitation is closely related to visitation abuse in the family law arena. Under Illinois law, you can be held in contempt by a family law court, or you can be criminally charged. If you are convicted for the crime, the family law judge cannot also find you in contempt. Because of the overlap, you may need to consult a family law attorney as well.

If you are charged with the crime of interfering, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case to determine if you have a defense. Did you intentionally deprive the other parent of visitation? Maybe you had an emergency. Did you have grounds to believe your children were in physical danger? Do not discuss your case with the police or third parties. What you believe is justifiable conduct may not seem reasonable to the judge.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email For a Child Custody Lawyer’s perspective, visit: Can I Deny Visitation If My Spouse Hasn’t Paid Child Support or For Other Reasons

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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