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Chicago Grandparents' Rights Attorneys

What Rights Do Grandparents Have in Illinois?

In Illinois, grandparents do have a right to visitation with their grandchildren. Depending on the circumstances of a specific case, grandparents could even be awarded custody of their grandchild. However, under Illinois law, a grandparent's right to visit a grandchild exists only through his or her relationship with the parent of their grandchild. In other words, the child's parents controls the amount of time, if any, that grandparents may spend with the child.

The experienced Chicago family law lawyers at Nottage and Ward, LLP have represented grandparents seeking visitation. We have also represented parents who have sought to prevent contact or visitation from grandparents when it was not in the child's best interest. Please contact us at (312) 332-2915 to obtain more information about how we can help you.

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Grandparents as Caregivers

According to a 2007 study conducted by the Southern Illinois University School of Law, in Illinois, there were 288,827 children living in households headed by persons other than their parents. Of these children, about 213,465 live with grandparents. Over 25 percent of the grandparents raising children in Illinois report that they live in households without the children's parents present. As of 2000, about 40 percent of Illinois's households list grandparents as primary caregivers for children. The study states that in meeting these children's essential needs, the grandparents often form substantial relationships with the children.

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Visitation Rights of Grandparents

In 1981, Illinois enacted a Grandparent Visitation Law that defined situations where grandparents could seek court-ordered visits with their grandchildren. That law was amended in 2006 to include the requirement that the child be at least a year old or older. Also, the amendment to the act allowed grandparents to seek visitation rights even if there was a pending divorce proceeding or custody proceeding.

Under Illinois law, grandparents have a limited right to obtain court-ordered visitation privileges with their grandchildren. The law recognizes that parents have the fundamental right to decide how their children are raised and with whom they maintain contact. The fundamental right of parents is typically balanced against the child's best interest. A court will apply the balancing test to give grandparents visitation rights when the child is 1 or older and if one of the following conditions is met:

  • One of the child's parents has passed away or has been missing for at least three months.
  • A parent has been incarcerated for three months or has been declared incompetent.
  • The child's parents are divorced and at least one parent has no objection to the grandparents keeping in touch and visiting.
  • The child's parents were never married and the parents do not live together. In such cases, if the grandparents are paternal, they must show evidence of paternity.

When considering the best interests of the child, the court will consider a number of factors including but not limited to the child's preference; relationship between the child and the grandparents; the physical and mental health of the child as well as the grandparents; good faith on the part of the grandparents and amount of visitation that has been requested. If the parental rights of both of the child's parents have been terminated as the result of a judgment or court order, then, the grandparents lose all visitation rights.

In such cases, the grandparent must clearly show the court his or her involvement in the child's life. The parent will be given the chance in court that the grandparent interferes with his or her decision-making ability with regard to the child. Examples of such interference include a grandparent's attempt to turn a child against the parent. Again, the judge is highly likely to listen to all arguments, examine the evidence and determine what is in the best interest of the child.

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Grandparent Custody and Adoption

There are some cases, unfortunately, where a grandparent may have to or want to assume responsibility of the child and seek custody. This typically occurs when the parent is in prison, mentally incapacitated or is a minor and unable to take care of the child. A parent may also give guardianship of the child for a short term without necessarily going to court. Grandparents may request custody permanently only in the child is no longer in the custody of either parent and one of the parents is deceased and the other is absent for some reason.

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Contact an Experienced Chicago Grandparents' Rights Lawyer

At Nottage and Ward, LLP, our experienced Chicago family law attorneys have what it takes to stand up for you. For more than two decades, family law has been our sole focus. We put the needs of our clients and their children first – always. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights as a grandparent or great-grandparent, please contact us at (312) 332-2915 to schedule an appointment.

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