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IL divorce attorneyGetting a divorce has many ramifications, especially when it comes to familial relationships. Not only are you splitting up with your spouse, but you are also splitting up your family unit, which in many cases includes extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In many families, grandparents have a close relationship with their grandchildren, especially if they helped care for them. Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in people and a parent can interfere with the relationship between the child and a grandparent for whatever reason. Illinois laws address this issue in the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Visitation Rights of Certain Non-Parents

The state of Illinois has recognized that extended family members often play a large role in a child’s life. In some families, grandparents take care of the children while the parents are at work. In other families, the child spends a significant amount of time with his or her step-parent. The law allows certain family members to petition for visitation or electronic communication when a parent “unreasonably” denies visitation or communication and the denial has caused undue mental, physical or emotional harm. These family members include:

  • Grandparents
  • Great-grandparents
  • Step-parents
  • Siblings
  • Step-siblings

Granting Visitation

If visitation for the child is contested, the court’s presumption is that the parent denying the visitation is acting in the child’s best interests. This means the burden to prove otherwise lies with the person who is petitioning for visitation. Typically, a judge will not grant visitation to a non-parent unless that person can demonstrate that the denial of visitation would cause harm to the child’s emotional, physical, or mental wellbeing.

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