Under some circumstances, grandparents in Illinois may receive limited visitation with their grandchildren. Visitation time refers to time spent with children as granted by court order, like parenting time given to parents to care for and raise their kids after a divorce or separation. Extended family members play an important role in many children’s lives. However, the decisions regarding who they will and will not spend time with typically fall to the parents. While most parents make such decisions with their children’s interests in mind, others cut off relationships that have benefited their kids due to other factors. The following article discusses what a typical grandparent visitation schedule looks like, and other issues regarding grandparent visitation.
When children have reached at least the age of one year old, a grandparent visitation attorney may aid people in seeking the legal right to spend time with their grandkids.
Does Illinois Give Grandparents Visitation Rights?
Illinois divorce law gives non-parents, including grandparents, limited rights to seek visitation for child relatives. Aside from parents and grandparents, family members to whom the court may issue visitation orders include a child’s great-grandparents, siblings, or stepparents. Despite the role that such extended family members often play in children’s lives, sometimes parents feel it best to limit or prevent a relationship. For example, they may make such a decision if there was a history of abuse or other unacceptable behavior. Alternatively, some choose this path due to issues between adults, such as parent-adult child disputes or disagreements between the child’s parents. If the grandchild-grandparent relationship serves the interests of the child, however, the court may see fit to step in and ensure it continues. Grandparents only have the right to seek visitation time if parentage is established for their grandchildren. For instance, if born to unmarried parents, the father would have to take the step of establishing paternity before his parents had the right to legally petition the court for visitation with their grandchild.
In Illinois, visitation means in-person time spent together. Depending on the circumstances, the courts may also include electronic communications in ordered visitation. Electronic communications may include, for example, email, instant messaging, social media applications, text messaging, and voice or video calls. With few exceptions, though, these types of communications do not entirely take the place of in-person visits. Instead, they offer some interaction in the case of busy schedules, substantial distances between residences, or other such factors.
When Can Grandparents Ask for Court-Ordered Visitation Rights?
Certain criteria must exist for the court to take the decision of whom a child spends time with out of the hands of the parents. Grandparents seeking visitation must show that lack of time with their grandchildren would cause the kids physical, mental, or emotional harm. Additionally, their cases will need to meet one of the following circumstances:
- The child’s parents have divorced or separated, or are currently divorcing or legally separating, and at least one parent has no issue with the request
- The child was born out of wedlock to parents who do not reside together
- The incarceration of at least one parent for three months or more
- A parent has been dead or missing for at least three months
- A parent is found legally incompetent
Provided the case meets these criteria, the courts will consider several factors to determine if visitation with a grandparent is in the child’s best interests. To make this decision, the court will take into account the preference of the child, whether the parents have denied time with the grandparents in good faith, and the grandparents’ reasoning in seeking visitation. Additionally, the court may look at the previous relationship between the grandparents and grandchildren, how the visitation will affect the child’s regular activities, whether the child previously lived with the grandparents and their contact in the previous year.
What Is a Typical Grandparent Visitation Schedule?
The state does not maintain a standard visitation schedule for when courts order grandparent visitation. Once ordered by the court, factors such as the children’s needs and activities and the involved adults’ schedules determine the visitation time that kids have with their grandparents. The grandparents and parents or guardians of the children will work together to develop a schedule that may include midweek visits, weekend time, overnight visits, and virtual interactions. Some also specify alternative schedules for holidays and school breaks. Additionally, many schedules also specify transportation arrangements, such as dictating that the parents will drop them off at the start of the visit and the grandparents return the children home when their time together concludes.
The court may order parents to provide their children’s grandparents with reasonable access to them. However, this does not mean that they must let them have possessory or overnight visits.
A Grandparent Visitation Lawyer Can Help
In the lives of many children, grandparents hold a unique place. Therefore, refusing them time with their grandchildren may cause distress to them, as well as to the kids. People who have had their right to see their grandchildren denied may find it helpful to consult with a visitation lawyer to learn more about their options. A legal representative may aid them in understanding if they have grounds to enact their grandparents’ rights.