Stepparents Seeking Custody And Visitation Have Rights Under Illinois Law
If you are the parent of stepchildren and are worried about filing for divorce in Illinois because of what might happen to your relationship with your stepchildren, you'll be happy to know that, under certain circumstances, a stepparent may be able to get visitation or custody rights.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows stepparents to file for custody of their step children in certain cases. In order to commence a custody proceeding of stepchildren, the following conditions must be met:
- The child must be at least 12 years old;
- The custodial parent and stepparent must have been married for at least five years, and the child must have lived with them during that time;
- The custodial parent must be deceased or disabled and unable to perform his or her parental duties;
- The stepparent must have provided for the welfare, care, and control of the child prior to the custody hearings;
- The child must wish to live with their stepparent; and
- The court must find that residing with the stepparent is in the best interest of the child.
Stepparents may also seek visitation with a stepchild if the above conditions are met.
In order to determine whether giving a stepparent custody or visitation of a child is best for that child, courts will consider a number of factors, including the child's wishes. The court will also consider the child's relationship with anyone else who is petitioning for custody as well as the child's relationship with anyone who may significantly impact the child's life. How well the child is adjusting or could adjust to his or her potential new home, school, and community also plays a role in the court's decision. Of course, any abuse, threat of physical violence, or other dangerous or negative conditions will also be considered.
Divorce can be an extremely stressful and confusing situation for every kind of parent—but it doesn't have to be. If you are a stepparent considering filing for divorce and want to know more about how the divorce may impact you and your stepchildren, contact MKFM Law today. We can help you navigate the divorce process and make sure you maintain a strong, lasting relationship with your stepchildren, whether through a custody arrangement, visitation, or another creative solution to keep you involved in your stepchildren's lives.