The issue of grandparent visitation of minor children has evolved somewhat over the last several years. In this article, an explanation of the current status of grandparent’s rights in Illinois will be explored. Grandparents, great-grandparents and brothers and sisters of a child are all lumped together with respect to the relative visitation statute in Illinois. In Illinois, grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings of a minor child who is at least one year of age, may file a petition requesting visitation of the minor child. A sibling refers to a brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister of the minor child.
A petition for visitation rights to a minor child may be filed in the county of residence of the minor child. If there is an unreasonable denial of visitation by a parent and at least one of the following conditions exists:
- The child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least three months;
- A parent of the child is incompetent as a matter of law;
- A parent has been incarcerated in jail or prison for at least three months;
- The child’s mother and father are divorced or have been legally separated from each other or there is a pending divorce action involving a parent of the child and at least one parent does not object to the visitation;
- The child is born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together and the party seeking visitation is a maternal grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of the child;
- The child is born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together and the party seeking visitation is a paternal grandparent, great-parent, or sibling of the child and the paternity of the child has been established in court.
Included in the term “visitation” is various types of electronic communication.
Two common scenarios where the party seeking visitation will be denied his or her petition based on a lack of standing are:
- The parents of the child are married to each other and denying visitation to the grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling.
- The parents of the child are divorced and they both are denying visitation to the grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling.
In the past, with respect to these two scenarios, the grandparent denied visitation could bring a visitation petition. However, in Illinois, that is no longer the case. The prevailing feeling being that the parents of a child should be able to dictate who is and who isn’t allowed around their children, regardless of the family connection. The parents are in the best position to determine and dictate who is allowed to be with their children.