Illinois is one state that allows grandparents and other close family members to petition the court for visits when the parent or guardian is not permitting access to the child. While grandparent visitation is considered a privilege and not a right in Illinois, your family law attorney can help you seek contact with your grandchildren.
What Is Grandparent Visitation?
Any parent - if deemed a fit parent by the court - is given substantial deference to his or her wishes regarding contact between their child and other family members, including grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even adult siblings. For this reason, many grandparents attempt to set up regular visits with their grandchildren by working with the child's parent.
Unfortunately, these informal agreements are often not honored, or are stopped and started at the convenience or whim of the parent, and not necessarily with the child's best interest in mind.
Your lawyer in Illinois can help you pursue an established visitation agreement that respects the valuable and meaningful relationship you have with your grandchildren and puts to rest the uncertainty surrounding sporadic or nonexistent contact.
Common Reasons Why Grandparents Seek the Court's Help with Visitation
There are numerous reasons why a grandparent or other close family member might seek to establish legal visitation with their grandchildren. Many times, an acrimonious divorce or child custody case may result in the parent withholding visits from the other parent's side of the family. If one or both parents are deceased and family members gain custody of the children, they may fail to allow visits with the grandparents on the other side of the child's family.
When a single parent is raising the child and the other parent is not in the picture or not paying child support, the responsible parent may not wish for the child to have contact with the absent parent's family - even if they maintained a prior close relationship. Sometimes, an adult child - or even a teen parent - will seek to prevent their own parents from having contact with their grandchild.
What Factors Do the Courts Consider in Grandparent Visitation Cases?
No matter the circumstances, the court will always consider the best interests of the child or children involved. If the parent is deemed unfit, grandparents or other family may petition the court for guardianship. If the parent is fit, the court typically honors the parent's reasonable wishes while still encouraging ongoing contact with grandparents, especially if a prior close relationship can be established and the grandparents are deemed fit to have contact with the child.
These cases can be quite complex and the procedure for filing a petition as a grandparent can depend on whether a divorce, custody or paternity case is in progress at the time.
Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Illinois
While going to court to obtain visits with your grandchildren is not ideal, it is sometimes the only way for loving grandparents who have been shut out of their grandchildren's lives to maintain this irreplaceable relationship. Your compassionate DuPage County family law attorney at our firm can advocate for preserving the valuable connection with your grandchildren.