There are many grandparents in Illinois who have grandchildren, but their own child is no longer married to or in a relationship with the other parent. All too often, the grandparent may not have a good relationship with the other parent, who then will no longer allow the grandparent to see the child. Other times, grandparents may have issues with their own child, who, in turn, no longer allows them to see their grandchild. This can be very difficult for grandparents who have historically established a good relationship with the grandchild.
Grandparents in this situation may have a right to establish parenting time with the grandchild through the courts. In order for this to occur, Illinois law sets certain conditions that must be met. First, one of the parents must be unreasonably denying the grandparent visitation with the grandchild.
Next, one of the following situations also must be present. A parent must be deceased or missing, a parent must be incompetent as a matter of law or one parent must be incarcerated. Grandparents can also seek visitation during the course of a divorce proceeding, so long as the parent does not object and the visitation does not interfere with the other parent's visitation. If the grandchild is born out of wedlock, then maternal grandparents can seek visitation and paternal grandparents also can seek visitation, once paternity has been established.
If the grandparents meet the conditions necessary to petition the court for grandparent visitation, the judge then must decide whether to grant visitation to the grandparents by weighing a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, the preference of the child if they are mature to express a preference, the mental and physical health of the child and grandparent, the length of the relationship between the grandchild and grandparent prior to the petition, the parent's reason for denying visitation and other related factors.
Grandparent visitation can be complicated and is very fact-specific. However, it is generally important for grandparents to see their grandchildren. Attorneys understand this complicated process and may be a helpful resource as one seeks visitation.
Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Illinois Compiled Statute 750 ICLS 5/607" accessed on Sept. 2, 2014