Guidance For Grandparent Visitation Rights Legal Action In Illinois

If you are a grandparent interested in pursuing legal action to increase access to your grandchild through visitation rights — or obtain sole custody of a grandson or granddaughter — the Goldberg Law Group in Chicago has the facts you need, which can lead to sound decisions.

In 2005, a new Illinois Grandparent Visitation Act took effect, granting grandparents the statutory right to petition for court-imposed visitation with their grandchildren. This law is more restrictive than the former Illinois Grandparent Visitation Act, which was declared unconstitutional on its face by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2002 in Wickham v. Byrne.

The Supreme Court held that a court may not interfere with a parent's fundamental right to the care, custody and control of his or her child unless the child's health, safety or welfare would be adversely affected by a refusal of visitation. The Court ruled that the "best interest" standard was insufficient when determining visitation disputes between a parent and grandparent, since those disputes are less critical than visitation disputes between parents, and ruled that the former Grandparent Visitation Act, which used that test, was unconstitutional.

The act made it more difficult for grandparents to receive court-imposed visitation by creating a presumption in favor of a parent's decision, enhancing the burden of proof on the grandparent and acknowledging a parent's fundamental right to parent his or her child.

Also, it set forth specific factors that the Court should use to determine whether to grant a visitation request, including:

  • The preference of the child, if the child is old enough to state a preference
  • The mental and physical health of the child
  • The mental and physical health of the person seeking visitation
  • The length and quality of the relationship between the child and the person seeking visitation
  • The good faith of the parent and/or the party seeking visitation
  • The quantity of visitation requested and the potential adverse impact on the family
  • Whether the child resided with the petitioner for at least six consecutive months
  • Whether the petitioner had frequent visitation with the child for at least 12 months
  • Any other factor that establishes that the loss of the relationship between the petitioner and the child is likely to harm the child's mental, physical or emotional health

A grandparent or great-grandparent may petition for visitation with a child, as can an adult sibling of a child. A petition for visitation may be filed when a parent dies, is divorced or is incarcerated. The petitioner must first show that he or she is being denied visitation. Then it must be established that the petitioner has more than just a biological relationship with the child. There must be an effort to convince the judge that if visitation is discontinued, harm will come to the child's mental, emotional or physical health. This is done by demonstrating to the court the strong relationship that exists between the grandparent and child.

Goldberg Law Group — Experienced Illinois Grandparent Custody And Visitation Attorneys

For sound guidance on how to get visitation rights, and for honest answers to any family law question, contact our skilled, compassionate Chicago family lawyers to arrange an initial consultation. Call 800-521-1506 toll free. We respond promptly to your email.