Illinois Visitation Rights: How Divorce Impacts Grandma and Grandpa

When two parents divorce, the couple and their children are not the only ones affected. A divorce also affects their families as well. Relatives, such as aunts, uncles and grandparents, may find themselves suddenly cut off from a divorcing couple’s children, especially if one parent decides not to allow members of the ex-spouse’s family to have any further access to the children. Additionally, if grandparents finds themselves “cut off” from their grandchildren, a Wheaton family law attorney may be required to help.

Grandparent Visitation Rights in Illinois

In limited circumstances, grandparents can petition the court for visitation with children. However, the ability to obtain visitation is usually subordinated to the rights of the parents to determine who may and may not see their children. For instance, suppose that, following a divorce, Maria’s former in-laws—her children’s paternal grandparents—want to see the children on a regular basis. The law recognizes Maria’s right to withhold visitation with the children from her former in-laws, even if Maria’s ex-husband wants the visitation to occur, unless doing so is detrimental to the child.

In order to obtain grandparent visitation, grandparents must show a court:

  • A parent has unreasonably denied visitation to the grandparents. A denial of visitation rights is “unreasonable” if the denial harms the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health. This is a difficult standard to meet. Just because grandparents are used to frequent contact with grandchildren does not mean that denial of future visitation would be harmful.
  • One of the following situations exists:
    • The other parent has been declared mentally incompetent, is deceased, has been missing for three months or more, or has been sentenced to prison or incarceration at least three months prior to the petition for visitation;
    • A child’s parents have been either divorced or legally separated for the past three months, or there is a pending dissolution or custody proceeding, and at least one parent consents to the visitation;
    • The grandparents’ child (so one of the parents) has had his or her parental rights terminated, so long as those rights were not terminated by adoption and so long as the visitation will not be used to allow the parent whose rights were terminated an opportunity to visit with the child; or
    • The child was born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together, and a court has established the father’s paternity of the child (pending the grandparents are the paternal grandparents).

Contact Us for Assistance

Obtaining grandparent visitation rights may be difficult. If you reside in DuPage County, Kane County, Will County, or Chicago’s western suburbs, it is imperative that you seek experienced counsel from the Wheaton family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. Contact us today to discuss the facts of your unique situation.