Father filed a petition for rule to show cause.  He said that Mother had repeatedly and willfully violated the visitation order.

Father lived 80 minutes away from Mother and their three sons.  Father alleged that he missed 43 visits with one son. 39 visits missed with a second son. 19 visits missed with the third son. The court asked Father to present evidence of the incidents that seemed most serious to him.

The trial court found the parties’ visitation problem to be one of the most difficult it had seen. It could not say that the problem was “all one party’s fault.”

The court did not want to say that Mother was in contempt of court.  The court would say that Mother went “overboard” in putting the children’s wishes over visitation with their father. But, the court did not find Mother to be in contempt.

The court found that the children missed visits due to their own willfulness. Mother might have let them choose to visit Father or not.  There was very little to suggest that she was “the one responsible for the problems going on with the children not wanting to see Father on the days in question.”

The court told Father that there was “a limit to what the courts and legal system can do to try to solve the problems.”

Father appealed. The Appellate Court said that the trial court had misled Mother.  The trial court  had not found her to be in contempt of court orders for visitation.  The court had suggested she could legitimately second-guess the visitation schedule.

The Appellate Court ruled that the trial court had erred. It should have found Mother to be in contempt of court orders.  The Appellate Court said that it expects that Mother is now aware that any new violations may be considered contumacious behavior.

IRMO McCORMICK, 2013 IL App (2d) 120100.