HomeBlogChild CustodyCan Grandparents Be Granted Visitation Rights in Illinois?

Can Grandparents Be Granted Visitation Rights in Illinois?

There are very rare instances when grandparents are granted visitation rights in Illinois, as it is not a basic legal right. Parents are afforded the discretion to determine whom their children spend time with, and if this excludes their grandparents, it is well within their parental rights. Better understanding when grandparents are granted visitation can help you better assess your own situation, and working closely with an experienced Illinois custody attorney is always advised. 

When Grandparents Are More Likely to be Awarded Visitation

As mentioned, parents who are considered fit have the final say when it comes to important decisions about their children, including visitation. Third parties, like grandparents, however, can petition the court for visitation. Before the court will award it, however, the grandparents in question must prove that being denied time with their grandchildren harms the children either physically, emotionally, or mentally plus a significant list of legal requirements that must be met, as outlined below.

Grandparents who tend to be awarded visitation are those who can demonstrate that they had frequent visits with the children in the past and that the children benefited from the time they spent together, while also meeting all of the other legal requirements. While Illinois courts may help grandparents who have already established a relationship with their grandchildren preserve it, they will not facilitate a new relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.

Legal Requirements

While you can petition the court for grandparent visitation, one of the following must apply – in addition to proving that physical, mental, or emotional harm mentioned above: 

  • One or both of the children’s parents have been declared unfit.
  • The children’s parents agree to your visitation request.
  • One or both of the children’s parents have been incarcerated for more than three months.
  • One or both of the parents are deceased or have been absent for at least three months.

Grandparents never have visitation rights by default – they must be sought via petition through the court – and it’s often an uphill battle. Because parental rights are so strong in the State of Illinois, there are no guarantees that grandparent visitation will be awarded – even when specific requirements are met. 

When a Parent Is Unfit

When one or both of the grandchildren’s parents are unfit, Illinois courts will carefully consider the request for visitation. Declaring a parent unfit is challenging and requires proving at least one of the following criteria, which still does not guarantee any grandparent visition rights:

  • Mental illness or mental instability
  • Abandonment of the children
  • Habitual addiction concerns
  • Emotional or physical abuse 
  • Endangerment of the children
  • Incarceration
  • Neglect of the children
  • Lack of interest in the welfare of the children

It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Illinois Parenting Attorney

The formidable Illinois child custody attorneys at WARD FAMILY LAW, LLC – serving the greater Chicago area – have a wealth of experience helping grandparents secure visitation with the grandchildren they love, and we are on your side. Grandparent visitation petitions are complex, so please don’t wait to contact us for more information about what we can do to help you today.



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