Protecting the Importance of a Grandparent to Grandchild Relationship under Illinois Law

Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child custody lawyerFor most people, the grandparent/grandchild relationship is considered a welcoming one that binds the family together and is often recognized as a deep relationship in extension of our parents. Those lucky enough to still have a grandmother or grandfather realize just how influential they are to the development of one’s sense of self. They provide refuge from a parental disagreement, can voice their opinions without retribution, step in the parental role often due to divorce and can offer that huge hug when things are not going well. In essence, a grandparent plays a significant role on who we become in adulthood no matter the circumstances.

For as important the role of grandparents is, currently there is not an official estimate of how many grandparents inhabit the United States today. At last estimate, the number was approximately 56 million. This estimate, derived from a 1965 study by Bernice Neugarten of the University of Chicago, a leading gerontologist or her time, established the five different types of grandparenting styles that are still relevant today.

The Formal Grandparent

Neugarten believed this type of grandparent opted for the more traditional and appropriate methods of grandparenting by participating in occasional situations but not assuming an overly active role.

The Fun Grandparent

This type of grandparent participates openly and often in the leisure aspects of his or her role and provides numerous fun activities for the grandchild.

The Surrogate Grandparent

Unfortunately more and more grandparents are assuming the role of parent and have literally accepted all responsibility of raising a grandchild.

The Wise Grandparent

Often the role of a grandfather this type of role focuses on remaining the patriarch of the family and offers words of wisdom, advice and the resources available to oversee the development of not only the grandchild but the related parent as well.

The Distant Grandparent

This type of grandparent opts to only interact with a grandchild on either holidays or special occasions.

It is astonishing that so little census data is available on this special demographic but the role is recognized by all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) in the form of expanding rights of grandparent visitation.

New Illinois Law

If you reside in Illinois, a new law, enacted January 1, 2017, has amended the Children and Family Services Act (HB 5656/PA 99-0838). This new legislation requires the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) to provide a reasonable effort and accommodation of visitation privileges to a non-custodial grandparent or great grandparent involving a grandchild under the care of the DCFS.

Although this new amendment refers to grandchildren under the care of the DCFS, visiting rights of grandparents have also been addressed under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5).

Specifically, under 750 ILCS 5/602.9 of the Act, grandparents and great grandparents can bring forth a petition to establish visitation with a minor child but only if one of the following conditions have been met:

  • One or both parents are deceased or have been missing for 90 days,
  • One or both parents have been declared legally incompetent,
  • One or both parents have been incarcerated for over 90 days,
  • The parents have been granted a dissolution, declared legally separated and parents do not object to the visitation petition, or
  • The grandparent has not been registered as a sex offender or has been criminally charged or convicted of first-degree murder.

If you are contemplating divorce and want to include discussions of grandparent visitation rights within your petition, contact the experienced Hinsdale divorce attorneys of the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio. Our legal team understands the complexities of divorce and protecting the relationship rights of all children involved. Contact our firm at 630-920-8855 to schedule your free initial consultation today.


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