Grandparents Have Limited Right to Demand Visits with Grandchildren

Grandparents Have Limited Right to Demand Visits with GrandchildrenA divorce or separation can affect children’s relationships with their grandparents, as well as their parents. Unlike parents, grandparents are not presumed to have the right to see their grandchildren. The grandparents’ son or daughter often allows them to visit their grandchildren. However, one parent who has exclusive responsibility for the children may prevent his or her co-parent’s relatives from seeing the children. In order to see their grandchildren, the grandparents will need to prove in court that denying their visits is harmful to the children.

Unreasonable Denial

Illinois family law presumes that parents have the children’s best interests in mind when they do not allow a non-parent to see their children. Grandparents can try to rebut that presumption by claiming that denying them visitation is unreasonable and emotionally harmful to the children. A court will permit grandparents to petition for visitation if one of the following conditions exists:

  • The children’s parents have divorced or separated and one of the parents does not object to them visiting the children;
  • The parents are unmarried and living separately;
  • One of the parents is dead;
  • One of the parents has been missing for at least 90 days;
  • One of the parents has been in jail for at least 90 days; or
  • One of the parents is legally incompetent to care for the children.

Granting Visitation

When hearing a petition for visitation, the court will decide whether it is appropriate to grant visitation to the grandparents against the parent’s wishes. The grandparents must prove that they have a strong and close relationship with the children and that denying them visits is emotionally harming the children. Illinois law instructs courts to consider whether:

  • The children lived with the grandparents for at least six months;
  • The grandparents were the children’s primary caregivers for at least six months; or
  • The children regularly visited and communicated with their grandparents in the 12 months prior to their visits ending.

The court will also consider the reasons that the grandparents want to see their grandchildren and the reason the parent is denying the visits. The grandchildren can express their preference in the matter if the court believes they are mature enough to make an independent decision.

Grandparents’ Rights

Your rights as grandparents will always be secondary to the rights of your grandchildren’s parents, as long as the parents are deemed fit. A Kane County family law attorney at Geneva Family Lawyers can advise you on how you can petition to see your grandchildren. To schedule a free consultation, call 331-588-6611.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/075000050K602.9.htm

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