Do Grandparents Have a Legal Right to See Their Grandchildren?
Grandparents and grandchildren share a very special bond. If you are a grandparent, you know just how precious the relationship between grandkids and their grandparents can be. However, unexpected life circumstances can threaten the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Family arguments, divorce, or other issues can lead to grandparents being cut out of their grandchildren's lives. This can be devastating for all the parties involved. As a grandparent, it is important to understand your rights in a situation like this.
Grandparents' Right to Spend Time with Grandchildren
The law only allows children to have two parents or guardians. Typically, only parents are granted visitation rights. However, there are situations in which grandparents may be awarded visitation with a grandchild. If a grandparent gets visitation rights, they are guaranteed visitation per court order.
Grandparents may be able to get court-ordered visitation with grandchildren if one or more of the following statements are true:
A parent has been declared "unfit" by the courts
A parent has been in jail for three months or longer
A parent is deceased
A parent is absent from the child's life for three months or longer
The parents are divorced and agree to grandparent visitation
The parents are unmarried and do not live together
Basically, the law may allow a grandparent to be granted visitation if the grandchild does not have two married parents who are actively involved in his or her life. However, the court does not automatically grant visitation rights just because these criteria are met. As with any other legal matter involving children, the court will only grant grandparent visitation if it is in the child's best interests.
Grandparent Visitation Must Be in the Child's Best Interests
Illinois courts will evaluate many factors when deciding if grandparent visitation is appropriate. The court will consider the child's preferences, accounting for his or her maturity level and ability to express these preferences. Then, the court will look at the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Has the grandparent been actively involved in the child's life? Has the child lived in the same home as the grandparent for a period of six months or longer? Has the grandparent been the child's primary caretaker at any point in the child's life? Would denying grandparent rights be detrimental to the child's wellbeing?
Contact a Wheaton Grandparents' Rights Lawyer
If you are a grandparent seeking visitation with your grandchild, contact MKFM Law for help. Our DuPage County family law attorneys can help you evaluate your options and take the appropriate legal action for your unique situation. Call us today at 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.