grandparent-visitation-rights

I’m A Grandparent. What Are My Rights to My Grandchildren?

grandparent visitation rightsIf your child has recently gone through a divorce, you are likely wondering how his or her custody arrangement for his or her children will affect you and your time with your grandchildren. You might be wondering what rights you have to spend time with your grandchildren and whether or not time with you is considered as part of their custody arrangement.

The short answer to your questions is this: unless you have court-ordered custody of your grandchild or grandchildren, your child and his or her former spouse are not legally required to have their child spend time with you

However, if you are routinely denied the opportunity to spend time with your grandchild, you may file a petition to have the court grant you visitation rights with your grandchild. Visitation rights are written into the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act along with other laws related to child custody and support.

Seeking Visitation Rights

Before going to the court to have visitation rights legally put into place, talk with your child and his or her former spouse about spending time with your grandchild. Talk about possibly setting up a weekly or monthly visit with your grandchild. In most families, getting the court involved is not necessary to establish a recurring visit with your grandchild.

However, one or both parents may deny you the opportunity to visit with your grandchild. If this is the case, filing a petition for visitation rights is an option.

Filing Your Visitation Petition

Your petition for visitation rights must be filed with the county where your grandchild resides. Once you have filed your petition, the court considers multiple factors when determining its decision. To qualify for visitation rights, a grandparent must prove that he or she was unreasonably denied visitation with the grandchild and at least one of the following statements must be true:

  • One of the child’s parents is dead or has been missing for three months or longer;
  • One of the child’s parents is incompetent;
  • The child’s parents are legally separated, divorced, or currently going through a divorce;
  • The child’s parents are not married and not living together; or
  • One of the child’s parents has been incarcerated for at least three months prior to the grandparent seeking visitation.

In addition to these factors, the grandparent must prove that visitation with the grandchild is in the grandchild’s best interest. To show this, the grandparent generally must prove his or her relationship with the grandchild, his or her health and fitness to spend time with a minor, his or her history with the grandchild, and whether or not the child’s parents’ denial of visitation to the grandparent is based in good faith.

Family Attorneys in DuPage County

To learn more about custody arrangements and other issues related to children during and following a divorce, call Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at (877) 889-4515 to speak with one of our firm’s experienced DuPage County family attorneys. Through years of working with families in DuPage County, we have developed a critical understanding of the legal issues all members of a family face. Contact us today to learn more about your rights as a grandparent.

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