When a child is being raised by a single parent, grandparents often play an important role in the child’s life by assisting with child care and financial support, and simply by being a loving and positive presence. Usually, even when grandparents are heavily involved, the parents still maintain parental rights and the authority to initiate legal proceedings regarding the child. However, there are some cases in which Illinois grandparents may seek legal rights regarding their grandchildren.
Can Grandparents Petition for Child Custody in Illinois?
Illinois now refers to child custody matters using the term “allocation of parental responsibilities,” and in most cases, a child’s parents are the ones with the authority to petition for legal action in this area, whether they are doing so as part of the divorce process or they have never been married. However, a grandparent may be able to do so if the child is not in the physical custody of either parent, or if the parent who is related to the grandparent is deceased, and one of the following is true of the other parent:
- He or she has been absent from the home in an unknown location for at least a month
- He or she is in federal or state custody
- He or she has a criminal record that includes domestic violence toward the child or the child’s other parent
Are Grandparents Entitled to Visitation?
While it may be hard for grandparents to be prevented from seeing their grandchildren, in most cases, a child’s parents have the authority to decide how much time their children spend with their grandparents. However, grandparents can sometimes seek visitation rights if they can demonstrate that the child is harmed by a parent prohibiting visitation and any of the following is true:
- The other parent is no longer living or has been missing for 90 days or more.
- One of the parents has been judged to be legally incompetent.
- One of the parents has been in jail or prison for more than 90 days.
- The parents are divorced, and one of them does not object to the grandparent’s visitation.
- The parents have never been married and are not living together.
Contact a Joliet, IL Family Law Attorney
Questions regarding grandparents rights can be complicated, and it is important that you work with an experienced Will County child custody attorney who can help you understand your situation and the options you may have. At The Foray Firm, we can help parents or grandparents take legal action to protect the best interests of the children in question. Contact us today at 312-702-1293.