Do Grandparents Have Legal Visitation Rights in Illinois?

Geneva grandparent visitation lawyerDivorce can be a troubling time for all families, whether they are a tight-knit family or not. When a family is close to one another, going through a divorce can be even more difficult. If a divorce is especially contentious or heated, relationships between family members can break down, and children can be used as tools to hurt other relatives. Illinois agrees that all parents have an inherent right to spend time with their children; however, this is not the case for grandparents. Thankfully, there are certain non-parents — including grandparents — who do have the right to petition for visitation in certain circumstances.

Who Can File a Petition for Visitation?

Only certain people are permitted to file a petition for visitation in Illinois. According to Illinois law, only grandparents, great-grandparents, step-parents, or siblings can file a petition to be granted visitation time. The petition can only be filed if the parent of the child has unreasonably denied visitation, and if at least one of the following is true:

  • The other parent is deceased or has been declared a missing person for at least 90 days.

  • One of the child’s parents is considered to be legally incompetent.

  • One of the child’s parents has been incarcerated for at least 90 days immediately before filing the petition.

  • The child’s parents are divorced or currently going through a divorce, and at least one parent does not object to the visitation.

  • The child was born to parents who are not married and who do not live together, and the person seeking visitation is a grandparent, great-grandparent, step-parent, or sibling of the child.

How Is a Decision Made About Visitation?

Once a petition is filed, the case will go to court, and a judge will determine whether or not to grant visitation rights. The judge will presume that the parents have a reason for denying visitation and that their decisions regarding visitation do not harm the child and are what is best. It is up to the petitioner to prove that denying visitation would cause the child undue mental, physical, or emotional harm. The judge will also use certain factors to make a decision, including:

  • The child’s wishes, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express his or her preferences regarding the visitation

  • The emotional and physical health of the person asking for visitation

  • The quality and length of the prior relationship between the child and the petitioner

  • Whether or not it is believed both the petitioner and parent are acting in good faith

  • The amount of visitation time that has been requested and whether or not it would impact the child’s daily life

  • Any evidence that proves the lack of relationship between the child and the petitioner is causing the child harm

  • Whether or not the visitation can be structured in a way that would protect the child from any conflict between the petitioner and the opposing parent

Contact an Oswego, IL Non-Parent Visitation Lawyer

At the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., we understand the importance of the role that family members play in the lives of children. It can be devastating for everyone involved if a child is denied visitation with a grandparent or sibling with whom they are close. Our skilled Kendall County grandparent visitation attorneys can help you file a petition to request visitation, and we will follow it through to a positive resolution. Call our office today at 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59

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