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What are a grandparent’s rights in Illinois?

Grandparents play a huge role in children’s lives and often contribute to the overall emotional stability of their grandchildren. Regardless of how important grandparent figures are, however, Illinois is one of the most pro-parent, anti-grandparent states in the country. Despite that, however, it too has a series of factors, standards and requirements within its statutes that courts consider before choosing to award, or not to award, grandparent visitation rights.

Per 750 ILCS 5/607, you, as a grandparent may only appeal for visitation if you believe that your grandchild’s parent has unreasonably denied visitation, and that said denial has caused your grandchild undue physical, mental or emotional injury. Moreover, Illinois operates under the reputable resumption that a legally suitable parent’s actions and choices regarding grandparent visitation are NOT detrimental to the child’s physical, mental or emotional well-being, and places the burden of proof on you, the petitioning grandparent, to prove otherwise.

If you can prove that rejection of visitation is unreasonable and that it causes your grandchild undue physical, emotional or mental harm, you must also prove that one or more of the ensuing circumstances exists:

  •          One of your grandchild’s parents has been gone for at least 90 days or is deceased
  •          Your grandchild’s parent is incompetent per the law
  •          Your grandchild’s mother or father has been in jail, in prison or otherwise incarcerated for more than 90 days directly preceding your filing the petition
  •          Your grandchild’s parents are divorced, and one guardian is not opposed to your having visitation rights with your grandchild
  •          Your grandchild was born out of wedlock to two parents who do not live together

Even if you can prove one or more of the above factors to be true, and even if you can show that the parent’s decision to deny visitation is detrimental to your grandchild’s physical, mental or emotional well-being, the courts may still deny you visitation rights. You can boost your odds of obtaining visitation rights by showing that your grandchild lived with you for at least six uninterrupted months, that you have had regular contact with the child for at least one year and that you were the principal custodian of the child for at least six months within a two-year period immediately before filing your petition for visitation rights.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be taken as legal advice.


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