In Part I of this series, we discussed general issues that may arise for parents learning to cope with the divorce of their adult son or daughter. We recognize planning a divorce when minor children are involved can be more complicated for all parties. In Part II, we discuss specific concerns that grandparents may face when coping with a son or daughter’s divorce.
Discuss Expectations for Holidays and Birthdays
If you want to plan ahead to include your child and grandchild for family gatherings for the holidays, try to make your holiday celebration coincide with your child’s parenting time. Ask your son or daughter in advance when he or she expects to be getting the child for the holidays. Be aware that depending upon the child custody agreement, you may need to schedule holiday celebrations a few days or even weeks in advance.
Request Visitation in Court
Obtaining court-ordered grandparent visitation, is possible, but still not especially common in Illinois. Under the current law, a grandparent may request legal visitation rights in the case of a pending divorce if one parent unreasonably denied visitation and the other parent does not object to the visitation request. Grandparents may have a heightened chance of being awarded court-ordered visitation if they have a history of acting as the primary guardian for the grandchild, if they have a particularly close relationship with the grandchild, or if one of the grandchild’s parents has been missing from the child’s life for a variety of reasons.
Even if a grandparent is allowed to petition for visitation, there is no guarantee visitation will be awarded. An Illinois family law court will heavily weigh one parent’s refusal to grant visitation. The policy behind this is not to interfere with a parent’s rights to govern her child’s upbringing as she sees fit. As such, it may be in the grandparent’s best interest to try to negotiate peacefully with both parents for visitation.
Talk to Your Son or Daughter and/or his/her Former Spouse About Obtaining Informal Visitation
If you do not qualify for court-ordered visitation, you may be able to work out a visitation plan with your child or child’s former spouse. Being a newly single parent may be stressful for your son or daughter or for their former spouse. If you live nearby, you can utilize the new change of schedules as an opportunity to spend more time with your grandchild and an opportunity to make peace with or show support for the divorcing spouses.
Even if the divorcing parents seem to have everything under control, they may still have to juggle childcare during divorce proceedings, work obligations or unplanned events. Both former spouses may relish an invitation for babysitting services during divorce-related events or your invitation to act as an emergency caregiver if needed. Letting your grandchild’s parents know you are there for them, and the child in an emergency can be a way to ease tension and help everyone focus on what is most important—the child’s best interest.
At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. we try to understand the individual priorities and motivations of each of our family law clients and tailor our legal services to fit their individual needs. For more information about the individualized family law services that our firm provides, contact our DuPage County visitation lawyers today at (877) 889-4515.