Spending time with your grandchildren is a loving and enjoyable experience. It benefits both the grandparents and the child. Studies have found that spending time with your grandchildren increases brain activity/memory and helps keep disease like Alzheimer's at bay. However, many grandparents lose out on time with their grandchildren when a family suffers a divorce. It can become an emotional battle when vying for visitation rights on behalf of not only a parent, but a grandparent as well.
Unfortunately, in Illinois there is no guarantee of visitation rights for grandparents, also known as grandparents’ rights. In fact, it is not considered a right under state law, but rather a privilege. This is, in part, due to the fact the Illinois Supreme Court twice held the statute granting grandparents’ visitation rights as unconstitutional.
The Effect on Your Family
What this simply means for you is that while you may request the court for visitation via a petition, it is not compelled to grant this to you and will only do so in specific circumstances. In order to sue for visitation privileges, the child must be at least one year of age and the following circumstances must be met:
- One of the parents is dead;
- One of the parents was declared incompetent;
- One of the parents is in jail for the three months prior to the visitation filing;
- The parents are divorced and one does not object to the visitation; or
- The child was born out of wedlock and the parents are not living together.
The current convoluted case law also requires you show an unreasonable denial of visitation and that the parent’s decision to prevent your visitation harmed the child’s mental, emotional, or physical health. This is known as the “harm standard” amongst family law attorneys.
Furthermore, if the court thinks you are seeking visitation rights as a way to get around the wishes of the (fit) mother, the court will be less inclined to grant visitation, and in some cases may completely bar your ability to see your grandchildren.
There is hope, however. The court is normally inclined to help maintain a healthy relationship between the grandparents and child. It is preferable that you work out an arrangement with the parents, but if that doesn’t work, petitioning the court may result in a trial for visitation privileges.
Let Us Help You Today
The process of petitioning for grandparents’ visitation privileges or modifying an order to allow for them can be complicated. You will need an experienced family law attorney to walk you through the process. Please contact the experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at our firm today for a consultation on your case and to learn how we can be of assistance.