A new law takes effect on January 1, 2019, in Illinois, protecting visitation rights for the family members of elderly adults. Before this new law takes effect, guardians have effectively had the unilateral authority over visitation privileges and could prohibit, without recourse, family members and others from visiting with their elderly loved ones in another family member’s care.
I have witnessed the unfairness of a family member taking control of a parent to the exclusion of other siblings. This new law will provide a remedy for the excluded family members. It will prevent guardians and caretakers from unilaterally and arbitrarily denying visitation rights to other family members and provides a remedy if they do it anyway.
The Frail Elderly Individual Family Visitation Protection Act will allow close family members to petition a court for the right to visit with elderly family members. This means, that neither a caregiver nor a guardian can prohibit visitation by other family members without being subject to scrutiny by the courts.
At the same time, the law includes some protections against the possible abuse of the elderly. The law recognizes that visitation can be and should be denied in certain circumstances, especially where there is a history or threat of financial or physical abuse, and the law provides a framework for the courts to deal with visitation issues.
If you are a guardian or caregiver of a loved one, you should be aware that you do not have a unilateral right to deny visitation privileges arbitrarily. If you do deny visitation privileges, your actions may be subject to review by a court, and you must have good cause (like proof or verified threat of abuse) if you are charged with denying those visitation privileges improperly.
On the other hand, guardians and caregivers now have some authority to seek an order in court to deny visitation privileges to prevent abuse, exploitation and other inappropriate conduct aimed at the elderly. The law creates some protection both ways where there was previously only uncertainty.
In a society that is aging, such as our society, our laws need to change and adapt to accommodate and protect our aging population. The Frail Elderly Individual Family Visitation Protection Act is a step in that direction. Anyone with aging loved ones should be aware of the laws that protect them.