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Grandparents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings can be part of a large, supportive family milieu that offers young children a loving, structured environment. Extended families often give much-needed assistance, especially when a child’s parents are divorced, imprisoned, or otherwise unable to be actively involved in a child’s life.
However, sometimes a child’s parent may try to actively inhibit a child’s relationship with extended family members. Whether this behavior is because of an acrimonious divorce, personal dislike of certain family members, or an effort to seek revenge on a former spouse, the impact on both the child and the estranged family members can be devastating. If you are unable to visit a child in your own family and are wondering if you might be able to get court-ordered visitation, read on.
Not everybody who claims to have a relationship with a child is automatically entitled to visitation, even if the child lived with them or they have a very close relationship with the child. Only a child’s biological or adoptive parents have a presumed legal right to visitation. Other relatives must be first-degree family relatives like grandparents, siblings, and stepparents, and must petition an Illinois court to get visitation with a child when at least one of the following circumstances is present:
The child’s parents are getting divorced and one parent does not object to the requested visitation
The child’s parents were never married and the person requesting visitation is a grandparent or sibling (after legal paternity has been established)
At least one parent has been in prison for three months
At least one parent is legally incompetent
At least one parent is dead or has been missing for three months
Visitation may be awarded in person, but it may also be granted through video-calling or telephone platforms. This can be helpful when relatives live far away or scheduling in-person visitation is difficult for other reasons. Parents who are reluctant to have their child visit with relatives in person may be more likely to consent to electronic visits when the child remains in the parent’s care and can be supervised during the phone or video call.
However, the most important factor the court will use when deciding whether to grant a non-parent visitation rights is whether doing so would be in the child’s best interests. Depending on the circumstances, courts can also look at several other factors, including how involved the non-parent was in the child’s life, how separation from the non-parent would impact the child, whether the child lived with the non-parent, why the child’s parent has denied visitation, and what the child wants.
At Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, we understand that children often benefit from close relationships with family members who are not their biological or adoptive parents. If you are a grandparent, stepparent, or sibling and are seeking visitation rights with a child you love, call our offices to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Hinsdale, IL child visitation attorney. We are here to answer your questions and help in any way we can. Call us today at 630-920-8855.