Grandparent Visitation

Grandparent Visitation:  What are the Rights and Limitations to Grandparent Visitation?

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that fit parents are presumed to act in their children’s best interests, and as such, parental decisions regarding the role of grandparents should be given great weight and consideration.  Since said ruling, laws throughout the nation, including Illinois, have limited the rights of grandparents and other non-parent persons, including step-family members.

Illinois Courts will presume that parental decisions regarding grandparent visitation and visitation by non-parents are not harmful to children. The burden is on the grandparent or non-parent person seeking visitation to prove a parent’s decisions will cause undue harm to a child’s mental, physical or emotional health.

The right to even petition the Court for grandparent visitation or non-parent visitation must be based upon a showing that there has been an unreasonable denial of such visitation and, that the denial has caused the kind of harm to the child that the law seeks to protect against. Further, one of the following circumstances must also exist:

  1. The child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 90 days.
  2. The parent of the child is incompetent as a matter of law.
  3. A parent has been incarcerated for a period in excess of 90 days immediately before the petition is filed.
  4. The child’s parents are divorced, legally separated, or are currently involved in such legal proceedings involving determinations of child custody and visitation, and at least one parent does not object to the requested visitation.
  5. The child was born to parents who are not married to each other, those parents are not living together, and parentage has been established by a Court.

If the above criteria have been met, then, the Court may consider such factors as: the wishes of a mature child; the health of the child and non-parent desiring visitation; whether the parent and non-parent have acted in good faith regarding their decisions; the nature of visitation being requested and, the quality of the relationship previously existing between the child and person seeking visitation.

For additional information regarding grandparent visitation and other non-parent visitation, contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation.

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