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When can grandparents seek visitation rights in Illinois?

Lots of people cherish the time they spent with their grandparents -- and rightly so. Grandparents can be a source of wisdom, love and support for their grandchildren throughout their lives.

Grandparents in Illinois can sometimes seek visitation rights with their grandchildren -- even over the objections of that child's parents. To do so, the grandchild must be at least 1 year of age and at least one of the following must be true:

  • One of the grandchild's parents must be considered an unfit parent or be deemed legally incompetent
  • One of the grandchild's parents must be incarcerated for 90 days or longer or has been absent from the child's life for that period of time
  • One of the grandchild's parents is deceased
  • The grandchild's parents are divorced and one will not permit the grandparents to have visitation with the grandchild
  • The grandchild's parents are not married and do not live together

Even under these circumstances, grandparents' visitation is not automatic. You still have to offer the judge a compelling reason to override the wishes of the child's actual parents. As in all child custody decisions, the state will consider whether allowing a grandparent visitation rights is "in the best interests of the child."

Most of the time, petitions for grandparents visitation are the product of some complicated family dynamics and issues that have created fractures between the grandparents and their adult children. The grandchildren may be caught in the middle. If you want to discuss your legal options as a grandparent, talk to an experienced advocate today.

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