Illinois Parenting Time: The Concept Formerly Known as “Visitation”

Traditionally, after a separation or divorce of parents, a schedule of visitation will be established to ensure that each parent has an opportunity to continue to maintain and grow their individual relationship with the child. The term “visitation,” however, is increasingly being seen in a negative light. As many courts attempt to find a more neutral term, Illinois family courts have replaced the term “visitation” with “parenting time.” The change in terminology is a nod to the growing trend among family courts to embrace the concept of equal parenting by different parties at different times, rather than using terms that imply one parent is the primary caretaker while the other has a lesser role in the child’s life.

Determining Parenting Time

As in all family law cases where children are involved, the focus of parenting time is to establish a joint schedule of parenting that is in the best interest of the child. Many parents are able to work together to create a parenting time schedule that is manageable for the parents while maximizing the benefits of co-parenting to the child. The parenting time schedule is then approved by the court.

However, in some cases, parents are unable to reach a decision allocating parental time; the court then weighs sixteen factors to create a parenting time schedule that is in the best interest of the child. Under Illinois law, the sixteen factors that the court will consider are:

  • The individual wishes of each parent
  • The wishes of the child, factoring in the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences
  • The time each parent spent performing caretaking functions for the child in the 24 months before the filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities or, if the child is under 2 years of age, since the child’s birth
  • Any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to caretaking functions for the child
  • The relationship between the child and each parent and siblings, as well as with any other person who may significantly impact the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • The needs of the child
  • Transportation and distance between the parents’ residences, each parent’s and child’s schedules and the parents’ ability to cooperate
  • Whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate
  • The existence of physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child or other member of the household
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage a relationship between the other parent and the child
  • The existence of abuse against the child or other member of the household
  • Whether one of the parents is a convicted sex offender or lives with a convicted sex offender and, if so, the exact nature of the offense and applicable treatment the offender has successfully participated in
  • The terms of a parent’s military family-care plan that a parent must complete before deployment, if applicable
  • Any other factor that the court finds to be relevant to the child’s best interests

Quality legal services for your family

At Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC, we pride ourselves in providing quality family law services to clients in the Chicago area. To learn more about parenting time or to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at or contact us by telephone at (847) 387-5559.

Written by Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions, LLC

Lake Cook Legal Solutions has been helping people throughout Lake, Cook, McHenry, and DuPage counties since 2012. We focus our practice on matters involving Illinois families—namely Family Law and Estate Planning.