Whether you’re a divorced parent with concerns about your parents or in-laws’ involvement with your kids or you’re a grandparent wanting to ensure your grandchildren get the best upbringing, questions about grandparent rights are understandable. With the help of an experienced Chicago family law firm, you could ensure the young ones form meaningful relationships as they grow.

The term “grandparent rights” is common, but not many understand this concept. It doesn’t necessarily mean the grandparents have an automatic right to spend time with the child or seek custody. It, however, means that in some special circumstances, the grandparent can petition the court to be awarded visitation or custody of the grandchild.

Do Illinois Grandparents Have Legal Rights?

Grandparent rights vary from state to state. In Illinois, the courts will almost always favor the parent’s wishes. Additionally, grandparents don’t have default rights over their grandkids.

Even in the event where parents are unfit to raise the kids, e.g., due to incarceration or mental disability, or the parent passes away, the grandparent must still have to petition the court for parental responsibilities.

Does A Grandparent Have a Right to Visitation?

Illinois Statute 750 ILCS 5/602.9 provides visitation and communication rights to certain non-parents like grandparents, siblings, and step-parents. The court will use this statute to award visitation to you as a grandparent. But still, these rights and privileges may be limited.

A grandparent may seek visitation rights when the grandchild’s parents are present but are separated, divorced, or in the process of divorce and at least one parent agrees to this right. It’s also important to note that the court in Illinois will only award visitation to a grandparent if the child is at least one-year-old.

If there are constant disagreements and tension between the parents and the grandparents, it is vital to talk to Chicago grandparents’ rights attorneys to learn your options. Some circumstances may allow you to obtain grandparents visitation rights even when the parents try to limit you.

Can Parents Block Grandparent Visitation?

Parents always have full discretion over their children. They can decide to use this right to stop any relationship between the child and a grandparent unless this would cause emotional, physical, and mental damage to the child. And this damage must be shown and proved in court. Therefore, a grandparent must show how spending time with the grandchild is vital for the grandchild’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

How Do I File a Petition for Grandparent Rights to Visitation?

Before filing the petition, the grandparent must first show that there’s been an unreasonable denial of access to the grandchild. The court will go ahead and evaluate the child’s best interests and parental rights when considering giving grandparent rights.

Court Considerations Before Granting Grandparent Visitation

The court will consider several factors before granting grandparent rights. They include:

  • Good faith of the grandparent and the parent
  • Physical and mental health of the child
  • What the child wants, if they are old enough to state a preference
  • How long the grandparent and grandchild have known each other and the quality of the relationship
  • Mental and physical health of the grandparent(s)
  • How often the grandparent visited the grandchild in the last 12 months
  • Whether the child stayed with the grandparent for over six consecutive months
  • Any additional factor that would impact the child negatively if the relationship is removed

An experienced grandparents’ rights lawyer in Chicago will evaluate your situation using these factors to determine whether you have strong grounds for a petition. Once the grounds are established, the attorneys will move ahead to prepare the case while considering the grandchild’s best interests.

Can A Grandparent Seek Child Custody in Illinois?

Some situations may warrant a grandparent to seek custody of a grandchild. The common ones are instances when the parent is a minor and cannot take care of the child, is deceased, mentally incapacitated, or imprisoned. Some parents may also voluntarily relinquish their parental rights.

Grandparents’ rights attorneys can also help you seek temporary guardianship for a short duration rather than requesting permanent custody. Adoption, which grants full parental rights, may be an option in case of death of the parents or a case of termination of parental rights due to serious issues of neglect, abuse, or substance abuse.

Your family law attorney can explain all your option and help you determine the best alternative for your family.

What Other Criteria Can a Grandparent Seek Child Custody in Illinois?

There are additional factors that can cause a parent to lose parental rights and transfer these rights to a grandparent. They include:

  • Abandonment
  • Putting the child in unsafe living conditions
  • Disinterested in the child’s welfare
  • Instability

All these allegations need verifiable evidence to back them up. Some evidence could include police reports, photographs, medical records, and criminal records. Because of how challenging it is to prove these cases, it is important to work closely with a skilled grandparents’ rights attorney in Chicago.

Is It Possible to Modify a Grandparent Parenting Time Order?

Grandparent parenting time orders can be modified every two years unless otherwise. They can be modified in favor of the parent if it is proved that the child is endangered or that there were unknown facts when the court entered the original parenting time order.

Get Guidance from A Compassionate and Family Oriented Legal Aid

While Illinois limits grandparents’ rights, it still values the active relationship between a grandparent and a child. The courts will therefore be receptive to the idea of awarding custody and visitation rights as long as these rights help provide a child with support and comfort to grow and learn in a conducive environment.

We also recognize that parents sometimes have valid reasons to limit grandparent rights in Chicago, IL. So, if you have any questions regarding a grandparents’ rights issue, talk to us. We are ready to put our knowledge and experience to work for you. Schedule a FREE consultation with our experienced Chicago grandparents’ rights attorneys today.