In this article, we explain visitation laws for grandparents in Illinois. While parents have fundamental rights to see and raise their children, grandparents do not. Third party guardians, including grandparents, cannot easily interfere with a parent’s rights unless a child is in danger.
There are not any federal laws governing visitation rights for grandparents. Each state has implemented its own laws, including Illinois. Depending on family dynamics, Illinois grandparents do have a limited legal right to visit their grandchildren, especially if the parents are divorced.
Grandparents who would like to establish court-ordered time with their grandchildren may file a petition (written request), but only after the child turns one year old. An Illinois court can grant visitation to grandparents if any of the following circumstances exist:
Similar to parental visitation laws, the biggest factor is the best interest of the grandchildren. A child’s best interest can be related to the child’s preference, the health of both the child and grandparents, and any potential negative effects of the visitation.
Assuming a parent is acting in a child’s best interests by prohibiting visits, a parent can prohibit a child from seeing a grandparent. Any grandparent seeking visitation rights has to prove that the child’s quality of life is negatively affected by the absence of a relationship with his or her grandparents. Therefore, when submitting a formal petition for visitation, grandparents have to prove that spending quality time with their grandchildren is vital to the child’s physical and emotional well-being. This burden of proof can be affected by many factors, including:
Even if a grandparent successfully receives court-ordered visitation, these rights can be terminated if the parents have to give custody to a separate party other than the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services or a foster care provider. For example, if a different family adopts a child, the maternal or paternal grandparents do not necessarily have the right to visitation, even if a visitation schedule has been established by a court of law. Any visitation orders entered prior to adoption will be terminated once the adoption is finalized.
It is possible for a grandparent to obtain custody of a grandchild. In some circumstances, a grandparent may be more financially and emotionally capable to meet a child’s basic needs than the actual parent. This alone is not enough to transfer custody from the parent to grandparent. In the state of Illinois, grandparents may request custody of a grandchild if:
If you have any questions regarding grandparent visitation rights in Illinois, please do not hesitate to contact us.