In this article, we will discuss the new Frail Individual Visitation Act in Illinois, including questions such as “Can I be denied visitation for a sick family member?” and “Do I have a right to be notified if my family member is hospitalized?”
The Frail Individual Visitation Act is a new law first introduced in 2019. Illinois enacted this new law protecting a family member’s visitation rights regarding sick or frail individuals. This bill covers the visitation rights of a family member hoping to see their frail relatives who are in the care of a professional caregiver but have been denied visitation by the caregiver. Previously, these rights were limited, as visitation rights were not always guaranteed. This new law does not necessarily guarantee visitation, but it does create a legal pathway to directly petition for visitation.
Under the new law, titled the Frail Individual Family Visitation Protection Act, family members may petition for visitation rights of their elderly or frail family members if they are denied visitation by their caregiver. This can happen if the caregiver, as determined by the courts, is preventing the visitation unreasonably. A petitioning family member would have to prove that visitation is in the best interest of the frail individual. If the court rules in favor of the family requesting visitation, the caregiver will be required to allow reasonable visitation for the petitioning family member.
A defending caregiver could attempt to argue that the denial of visitation in the best interest of the frail individual. The court also may deny visitation if it determines that the frail individual is of sound mind and personally denies the visitation of the petitioner. The process does not apply if the caregiver is a legal guardian or acting with power of attorney or by the order of someone with power of attorney.
For more information on the legal process for challenging guardianship, read our article How to Challenge a Guardianship in Illinois.
In 2019, the law regarding notifications of residency changed. The Frail Individual Family Visitation Protection Act not only covers visitation, but it also contains new law regarding notification for family members if their loved one changes residency. This includes hospitalization of the family member, moving of the family member to a new home, entering the family member into a health institution, or the death of the family member.
In order to force this requirement, petitioning family members must go through a petition process similar to the above process where the courts will determine if the caregiver must notify the family of changes in residency. If a family member petitions for visitation as explained in the above section, they or the court may continue the case in order to also add notification requirements. If it is ruled in favor of the family, a caregiver must give reasonable effort to notify the family of residency changes or death. This must be done in a reasonable means of notification as well as within a reasonable timeframe.
This law is designed to protect frail individuals as well as their family members from unnecessary conflict in an already stressful situation. This new law is still early in execution, so the specifics of the law may be developed further in the future. You may benefit from talking with an attorney before taking legal action to assure that you have a full understanding of your rights and protections.