Depending on the family dynamics, grandparents may find themselves at the mercy of the parents of the grandchildren in question when it comes to the issue of visitation. Under Illinois law, grandparents have a limited right to request court-ordered visitation privileges with their grandchildren. State law also recognizes a parent’s fundamental right to the final decisions regarding how and where their children are raised and who may have access to them while they are minors. From a legal standpoint, however, the rights of both parents and grandparents are always viewed in tandem with what is in the best interest of the child. Situations do arise in which the best interest of the child may need to be decided by a family court.
A grandparent who is being denied visitation with a grandchild may they wish to seek remedy via the court system. The first step in doing so is determining if the circumstances of the case meet the criteria contained in the law. If so, the court will then determine if visitation with the grandparents is in the best interest of the child.
The initial threshold requirement to be met is that the child must be at least one year of age or older and that grandparent in question is being denied access to the child. One of the following must also apply:
- One of the child’s natural parents is deceased, or missing for at least ninety days;
- One of the child’s natural parents has been declared incompetent;
- A natural parent has been incarcerated for a period of ninety days before the grandparents’ visitation filing;
- The natural parents are divorced and one of them does not contest the grandparents’ visitation request; or
- The child was born to unmarried parents who do not live together.
It is important for paternal grandparents to understand that if the child’s parents were not married, the father must establish paternity before the court will consider the visitation rights of the grandparents.
In cases where a parent has his or her parental rights terminated, the associated grandparents’ rights are automatically terminated as well. Otherwise, if a grandparent’s situation qualifies them to seek remedy via the family court system, there is a possibility that the court will order visitation if it determines such visitation to be in the best interest of the child.
Helping Grandparents in Northern Illinois
If you are a grandparent who thinks that you may qualify for a court-ordered visitation plan with your grandchildren, contact an experienced family law attorney in DuPage County to discuss your case. Call Abear Law Offices at 630-904-3033 for a confidential consultation today.