The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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What to Know About Grandparent’s Rights in Illinois

Posted on October 19, 2023 in Family Law

Kendall County family lawyerIt may be a hard pill to swallow, but grandparents do not have inherited visitation rights to a child. In fact, if a parent were to deem a grandparent a danger to their child, they could prevent that grandparent from interacting with the child. The rights of grandparents are not governed by federal law. As a grandparent in Illinois, it is always a good idea to fight for your rights to your grandchildren by consulting an experienced family law attorney.

When Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?

Grandparents’ rights are limited in Illinois. A grandparent can only be granted legal visitation rights to their grandchildren through court-ordered visitation. A child must reach the age of one year before a grandparent can petition for legal grandparent visitation rights. Before one year old, birth parents can choose to keep grandparents from visiting or interacting with their children.

How Can Grandparents Obtain Visitation Rights?

A grandparent must petition the Illinois court for grandparent rights. To have rights granted to a grandparent, they must meet at least one of the following:

  • A child’s divorced parent agrees to allow grandparent visitation
  • The court has deemed one of the parents to be incompetent or unfit to parent
  • Unwed parents of the children live in separate households
  • One of the child’s parents is either dead or has been incarcerated or missing for 90 days or more

Even if a grandparent meets one of the above criteria, a court could still rule in favor of the parent or parents choosing to deny grandparents’ rights. A grandparent must prove to the court why visitation is in the child’s best interest.

The court will also consider the following factors when determining if grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child:

  • Why a parent is denying visitation
  • The physical and mental health of the grandparents
  • The current relationship between the child and grandparent
  • How visitation or the denial of visitation will affect the child

What Does Illinois Consider an Unfit Parent?

In the event that a court deems a parent or both parents unfit, a grandparent can sue for legal rights to the grandchildren. Illinois requires proof that a parent is unfit and will use evidence of the following factors in their final decision:

  • A child is abandoned or neglected
  • Parents with habitual substance abuse
  • Physically or mentally abusive parents
  • Parents show signs of clinical illness or instability
  • Children are currently in unsafe living conditions
  • Parents are currently serving time in prison
  • Parents show apathy towards the care of their children

The burden of proof falls on the grandparents. The use of criminal records, photographs, video, police reports, medical records, and other documentation can be used to back up a grandparent’s claims of unfit parents.

What if The Child is Adopted By Another Family?

A grandparent’s rights become null and void if a child is given up for adoption. This is because state law dictates that adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents once the adoption is finalized. All relationships with prior family are now considered severed in the state of Illinois.

Contact a Kendall County, IL Family Lawyer

In Illinois, grandparents do have rights but must be willing to fight to obtain them. The The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. is ready and willing to assist you in that fight. You will need an experienced Yorkville, IL grandparent visitation rights attorney. Contact the office at 630-409-8184 for a consultation to discuss how we can help secure visitation rights with your grandchildren.

The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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