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Family law issues affect all members of the family, both immediate and extended. Grandparents and their grandchildren enjoy a special bond, but that relationship can be disrupted during a child custody dispute. If a child’s parent decides to limit or cut off your visitation with your grandchild, it can be emotionally devastating. As a grandparent, you are invested in the child custody battle between the child’s parents. Illinois law provides grandparents some visitation rights in certain circumstances. This legal area is continually changing and adapting to new family structures, and it is in the best interest of any grandparent seeking custody rights to speak with an attorney immediately.
Parental Rights vs. Grandparent Rights in Illinois
A recent study from the University of Chicago reveals that the majority of grandparents provide care, in some form, to their grandchildren. This care ranges from emotional support to financial support. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is socially recognized as an important part of many families. This relationship is often restricted during child custody cases. When parents separate, divorce, or fight about custody, grandparents’ visitation with the child can be limited. A parent may even completely cut off all communication and contact between the child and the grandparent. The law recognizes a parent’s right to make decisions regarding his or her child. These parental rights are very important under Illinois law. Contrarily, a grandparent does not have rights to make decisions for his or her grandchild, and usually has to accept the parent’s or choices. However, grandparent rights in Illinois may be recognized by the court.
Petitioning the Court for Grandparent Visitation
However, in some cases, grandparents can contest a parent’s decision to unreasonably limit the grandparent-grandchild relationship. The Illinois Grandparent Visitation Act requires grandparents to prove certain facts in order to challenge a parent’s decision to limit visitation and/or communication with the child. To persuade a court to grant grandparent visitation rights, the petitioner must prove at least one of the following:
A parent is incarcerated, dead, or incarcerated;
The parents are separated or divorced; or
The parents were not married and are not cohabiting.
If you are able to demonstrate at least one of these factors, you must also demonstrate that that the child’s parents’ denial of visitation is not reasonable. In other words, you must show that the parent’s refusal to allow a grandparent-grandchild relationship actually harms the child in some way. There are many other factors the court will consider, even after this criteria is proven.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you are considering pursuing a claim for grandparent rights in Illinois, contact the dedicated DuPage County family law attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio now. Our skilled DuPage County lawyers understand the complicated family law system, and will use that knowledge to help you. Contact us today for an initial consultation.