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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Non-Parent Visitation After a Divorce

Posted on in Child Visitation

IL custody lawyerMany operate under the misconception that only parents and children are affected by a divorce, when in reality, multiple family members will have to adjust their own lives, offer support, and help the family as best they can. In some situations, family members may even seek visitation with children during the divorce proceedings. However, Illinois’ regulations surrounding this particular issue are quite complex. If you are in the position where you would like to seek non-parent visitation, it is possible to obtain that, but it is not easy.

The Process Is Complex

Illinois public policy favors a parent’s right to parent their children in the way they see fit as long as the child is not being endangered. However, certain family members - as of this writing, grandparents or great-grandparents, stepparents or siblings - may try to seek visitation (as opposed to parenting time) if they qualify under certain criteria. The main point that the nonparent seeking visitation must prove is that they have been “unreasonably” stopped from visiting with the child and that this has caused harm to the child (be it emotional, mental or physical).

In addition to alleging the “unreasonable” prevention of visitation by the parent, the person filing suit must also be able to show at least one of these:

  • The child was born out of wedlock and paternity has been established, but the parents are not living together;
  • At least one parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 90 days (after having been reported as such to the police);
  • At least one parent is legally incompetent; and/or
  • The parents are divorced, legally separated, or in the middle of divorce proceedings (or any proceeding dealing with visitation or parenting time), and at least one parent does not object to the nonparent having visitation.

If none of these apply, the court will almost always reject the request for visitation, deferring to the parent’s wishes for how to parent their own child.

Starting a Case

If a nonparent does decide to sue for visitation, they must be able to establish their relationship to the child and show that at least one of the criteria is met in the specific case - for example, that the parents are not living together even though paternity of the child has been established. Once the forms have been filed and the parent has been served with sufficient notice, the hearing will happen. Depending on how complex the case can be, it may take more than one hearing to reach a decision.

You should be aware that there is a long list of factors that a judge will weigh in order to determine whether or not to grant the petition for visitation, all going toward whether your visitation would truly be in the best interests of the child. Some of these include the child’s wishes (if they are old enough and mature enough to weigh in), the good faith (or lack thereof) of the parents involved, how long the child lived with the nonparent figure and the relationship they developed, and the general physical and mental health of both the child and the parents.

Seek Experienced Legal Help

Children do not only interact and form relationships with their parents, and it can in many cases be beneficial for others to be able to have regular visitation with them. However, this is not absolute - if you are seeking to obtain visitation time with a child, you need a knowledgeable DuPage County family law attorney on your side to help you through the process. Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. has attorneys who are happy to work with you on your case. Contact our offices today to set up an appointment.



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