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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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visitation, non-parental visitation, Illinois family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings of a minor child who is one year or older, have standing to bring an action in circuit court by a petition requesting visitation. The petition must be filed in the county in which the minor child(ren) reside.

A grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling may file a petition for visitation rights to a minor child if there has been an unreasonable denial of visitation by a parent and at least one of the following conditions exist:

  • The child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 3 months;
  • A parent of the child is incompetent as a matter of law;
  • A parent has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the 3 month period preceding the filing of the petition;
  • The child’s mother and father are divorced or have been legally separated from each other or there is pending a dissolution proceeding involving a parent of the child or another court proceeding involving a parent of the child or another court proceeding involving custody or visitation of the child and at least one parent does not object to the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling having visitation with the child;
  • The child is born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together, and the petitioner is a maternal grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of the child born out of wedlock; or
  • The child is born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together, the petitioner is a paternal grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling, and the paternity has been established by court.

If you are a grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling and wish to enforce your rights to visitation, your best chance at success will be to hire an experienced attorney to help you with your case. If you are in need of legal representation in a visitation action, contact Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC at 312- 605-4041 to schedule an initial consultation.

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