Grandparents Visitation Rights In Illinois

Grandparents Visitation Rights

In recent times grandparent visitation rights has become tough in many of the US states. Grandparent rights have been in question for a while. It was in the year 2002 the Illinois Supreme Court declared that grandparent visitation statues were unconstitutional. The court found that the law was against the fundamental right of parents to raise their children. According to the court the custodial parents could decide to what extent the grandparents had visitation and custody rights in respect of their children. Since then, for so many years, the lower courts declined to order visitation rights to grandparents and continued it until 1st January, 2007 when a new law was incorporated in the statues to provide court ordered visitation rights under certain circumstances.

When a Grandparent Is Eligible for Court Ordered Visitation?

Getting court ordered visitation under the present law is difficult and needs to satisfy certain conditions. The grandparents should prove the court that the parents have denied visitation and their actions are inappropriate for a growing child. To file a petition before the court for visitation at least one of the following conditions must exist in respect of the parents.

1. Death: One parent of the child has died.

2. Inability: One parent is unable to look after the child due to mental illness.

3. Missing: One of the parents has been missing for at least three months.

4. Imprisonment: One of the parents has been sentenced to imprisonment or incarceration during the three month period preceding the filling of the case.

Divorce and Separation: Parents are either divorced or have been legally separated during the three month period before the grandparent files the petition for visitation. A grandparent can also file a petition when there is a pending proceeding involving custody or visitation of the child and at least one of the parents has no objection for grandparent visitation.

Termination of Parent-Child Relationship: When a court terminates the parent -child relationship, the grandparents can file petition for visitation. A grandparent whose parental rights have been terminated through an adoption proceeding has no right to file a petition for visitation.

Child Born Out of Wedlock: When a child is born out of wedlock and the parents are not living together, either maternal grandparent or paternal grandparent can file petition for visitation where a court has established father’s paternity of the child.

Besides the above conditions grandparents are allowed visitation rights when the parents voluntarily agree grandparent visitation. Courts uphold the existing court orders containing the provision for voluntary visitation of grandparents.

In all cases the court takes the preferences and best interest of the child while granting grandparents rights for visitation. It also modifies the order passed by it if there is clear and convincing evidence to prove that such change is inevitable to protect the child.