Father was convicted of a sex offense. With a minor child outside of Father’s family. The statute said that he could not get court-ordered visitation. The law provided that a non-custodial parent who is a convicted child sex offender is not entitled to visitation rights. Until he successfully completes his criminal sentence. And “a treatment program approved by the court.” Father challenged the constitutionality of the law.
Father also filed a motion for reinstatement of visitation. Father’s visitation with his minor children had been suspended. Father had participated in a sex offender evaluation. The evaluator recommended no further treatment was necessary. The recommendation resulted from Father’s testing, history, and extensive follow-up.
The circuit court of Cook County ruled the statute was unconstitutional. It then ordered visitation be reinstated. The Cook County Public Guardian objected to Father’s visitation being reinstated.
The Public Guardian argued that the statute required Father to complete a treatment program. Regardless of any recommendation or determination made by the approved sex offender treatment provider. They argued that Father never obtained any actual treatment. Even though none had been recommended.
Father argued that a parent’s right to visitation with his child is a fundamental right. So, the State may not take that right away. Unless, 1) there is a compelling State interest. And 2) the court finds that denying visitation is in the child’s best interest.
The Court said that Father had complied with the law. His visitation was reinstated.
There may be some instances where the law could permanently terminate a non-custodial parent’s right to visitation with his or her minor children. But, the Court said that situation did not exist in this case.
In re Marriage of Donald B., 2014 IL 115463
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