In this article we explain visitation rights for grandparents and family members in Illinois. We discuss SB2498, a new law that outlines how certain non-parents, such as grandparents, can seek visitation rights with respect to children. We answer the questions: “Who can file for visitation rights in Illinois?” “What conditions must be met for family members to receive visitation rights in Illinois?” “What does the court consider when granting visitation rights to non-parent family members in Illinois?,” “Who can’t receive visitation rights in Illinois?” and “How can you file for visitation in Illinois?”
Grandparents, great-grandparents, step-parents, and siblings (including half-siblings and step-siblings) of a minor child who is at least one year old can petition for visitation and electronic communication if they meet certain conditions.
What conditions must be met for family members to receive visitation rights in Illinois?
The child’s family member (grandparent, great-grandparent, step-parent, or sibling) must prove that a parent’s denial of visitation is unreasonable and will cause “undue mental, physical, or emotional harm to the child.” At least one of the following conditions also must exist:
The court takes into account several factors when determining visitation rights, including:
You can’t receive visitation rights if the child has been adopted or is in the process of being adopted by adoptive parents that aren’t related to the child’s biological parents. You also can’t petition if the child was given up under the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act or was otherwise voluntarily surrendered, except to the Department of Children and Family Services or a foster care facility. Visitation is not given to relatives of children involved in a pending case under Section 2-13 of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987.
There are also limitations and restrictions for relatives seeking visitation who have been convicted of sexual crimes against a minor. The court will deny requests from anyone convicted of first-degree murder of a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of the child to whom they’re seeking visitation rights.
You can file a petition in a pending court proceeding, such as a divorce or other parental responsibility or visitation case. If there are no existing cases, you must file the petition in the circuit court of the county where the child lives.