As more parents in Illinois and throughout the country suffer from addiction in the current opioid crisis, grandparents are increasingly raising their grandchildren when the parents are unable to do so. It’s important for these grandparents today to understand their rights when questions of visitation or child custody arise concerning their grandchildren.
When asking a court for formal visitation or custody of a grandchild, the main thing that will need to be established is that it is in the best interests of the child. Illinois law outlines a number of conditions in order for this to be true, one of which is the absence of a parent. This is something that is not uncommon in cases of addiction, as parents may be in jail or in rehab; they may be engaged in criminal activity and simply not present in the family’s life; others may have died.
Another issue is proving that the child’s well-being — whether emotional, mental, or physical – would be harmed by a denial of grandparent visitation or custody. It will be necessary to convince a court in Illinois that this is the case. Here, not only is there the challenge of presenting a solid legal argument based on evidence. There is the difficult emotional matter for a grandparent of arguing against his or her own child, presenting what may have to be a thorough and detailed picture of the negative behavior and its impact on the grandchildren.
Legal professionals experienced in child custody matters are increasingly familiar with these scenarios. Grandparents seeking to protect their grandchildren through a formal order of visitation or even custody may wish to consult with an attorney who can help them make the right decisions, and help the judge understand why such an arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
Source: Findlaw.com, “Factors Considered for Grandparent Visitation and Custody,” accessed on Oct. 27, 2017