Grandparents often have close relationships with their grandchildren, which is usually mutually beneficial to both the grandparents and the grandchildren. However, when parents of the grandchildren become estranged or other events such as relocation or even a death in the family arise, grandparents might find themselves without legal rights to maintain contact with their grandchildren. In Illinois, grandparents can file a petition for visitation rights to a minor child if they feel like there is an unreasonable denial of visitation by the parent. The denial of visitation petition typically must show that at least one related condition exists such as one of the child’s parents is deceased or missing, a parent is lawfully incompetent, a parent is incarcerated for a certain period of time, or the mother and father are separated, divorced or in active dissolution proceedings and one of the parents is agreeable to grandparent visitation. Grandparents to children born out of wedlock may also be able to secure visitation under the law.
When granting visitation rights the courts will likely take into account the preference of the child if he/she is mature enough to express a preference. The court will typically look at whether the visitation would have an adverse impact on the child’s customary activities such as attending school, spending time with friends or other obligations. They will look at the physical and mental health of both the grandchildren and grandparents and take a historical look at the length and quality of the relationship between them. In order to serve the best interests of the minor child, the courts will most certainly weigh the good faith of the party filing the petition against the good faith of the party denying the visitation and try to ascertain if the relationship between the petitioner and the child is likely to harm the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.
Many children benefit from maintaining a close relationship with a grandparent, but there are also circumstances that call for limiting visitation. The best interests of the minor grandchildren are of up most importance. If you would like information regarding grandparent or caretaker visitation rights, contact the Law Offices of Schlesinger and Strauss, LLC.. We have the knowledge and experience to help you in a visitation matter.
Source: Nolo.com, “Grandparent and Caretaker Visitation Rights”, accessed February 6, 2015.