There are a variety of reasons that grandparents in Illinois end up raising their grandchildren. Sometimes the parents have substance abuse problems or are not in a place financially to be able to raise the children themselves. While the grandparents understand how to care for the children, many times they do not understand family law and do not have legal guardianship over their grandchildren.
According to Illinois state data, over 211,900 children are living in the homes of grandparents. These grandparents find themselves trying to keep up with the ever-changing world of their grandchildren. Many grandparents do not understand newer technologies that their grandchildren use for school or in daily life. In addition to that hurdle, many struggle with the economic and legal issues that arise with raising a grandchild.
Many grandparents raise these children without legal guardianship or legal custody. This means that they do not have access to many resources designed to help parents raise their children. This is especially important for grandparents who are attempting to raise their grandchildren on fixed retirement incomes.
Grandparents may be able obtain legal guardianships or custody of their grandchildren. In any custody determination the best interest of the child is the main consideration for the court. Grandparents must prove that the parents are unfit to care for the child or have abandoned the child in some way. There are also a number of other factors that the courts consider when making custody determinations. Legal custody, however, may be an important consideration for grandparents raising their grandchildren and may be something that grandparents can obtain in many situations.
More and more grandparents in Illinois find themselves caring for grandchildren and there are many day-to-day hurdles they must clear. Experienced family law attorneys understand grandparents’ rights issues and may be a useful resource when navigating through the process of raising a grandchild.
Source: Northwest Herald, “Grandparents take on changing role” Stephen Di Benedetto, Oct. 18, 2013