Divorce and Grandparent’s Rights in Illinois

Acrimonious and emotionally devastating, divorces can have a far-reaching impact on a divorcing couple’s family members, especially when children and grandparents are involved. With almost half of all U.S. marriages now ending in divorce,  the rights of grandparents have been garnering more legal attention during the past decade due to the rising number of divorces. In addition, any hostility felt by one parent can have a negative effect on the children’s other set of grandparents.

In legal terms, a grandparent’s visitation rights refers to the time they get to spend with a grandchild without having a parent present. Overnight visits, weekend visits and taking grandchildren on short vacations all constitute as “visitation.” Frequently, when a custodial parent (usually the wife) is extremely angry at an ex-spouse, she may not permit the ex-husband’s parents to see the children. Generally, the reasons for denying visitation rights to grandparents have nothing to do with the reputation of the grandparents. Rather, it is a spiteful act meant to emotionally hurt the ex-husband and his family.

Under Illinois divorce law grandparents, great-grandparents and even adult siblings of children involved in the divorce are legally capable of seeking court-ordered visitation rights if they are denied the right to visit grandchildren. This law went into effect on January 1, 2007, with stipulations and guidelines regarding the filing of the petition. One important aspect of being able to file for grandparent visitation rights is that grandparents must show that denying them the opportunity to see their grandchildren was a baseless and unreasonable action on the part of the custodial parent.

Courts deciding a grandparent visitation case will also consider the following:

  • What the child wants to do, if he or she is old enough to decide
  • The physical and mental condition of the child
  • The physical and mental condition of the grandparents
  • The prior relationship quality between the child and the grandparents
  • If such visitation causes any negative impact on the child’s life

Being denied the ability to see your grandchildren can be emotionally devastating.  The custodial parent’s personal biases should not affect your right to spend time with the grandchildren you love.   If you are currently experiencing this type of situation, contact a professional DuPage county divorce lawyer who has the expertise and legal insight necessary to establish your rights to legally visit your grandchildren.

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