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Can a Grandparent Obtain Parental Responsibilities in Illinois?

Posted on in Children

St. Charles IL grandparent rights lawyerSometimes, parents prove unwilling or unable to take care of their children. In these scenarios, there are several options for the children to receive care, but one that is becoming increasingly common is for a grandparent or grandparents to step in. According to official state estimates, there are more than 100,000 grandparents raising their grandchildren in Illinois. If you are in a position where you may decide to raise your grandchildren, there is a process to follow to ensure everything is legally sound.

Obtaining Physical Custody and Parental Responsibilities

There are several different options for grandparents to obtain physical custody of their grandchildren and decision-making authority regarding their well-being. The one that is most commonly used is to bring an action for parental responsibility under 750 ILCS 5/601.2, which is part of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). There are two scenarios under this law in which a grandparent could conceivably obtain physical custody. The first is if the child is not in the physical custody of their parents—for example, if the parents are both deceased, or if one or both parents voluntarily abandoned the child. The second is if one parent is deceased and the other is missing or incarcerated. If either of these applies to your family situation, the IMDMA is likely the best law under which to bring your petition. 

However, if neither of these scenarios is applicable, for example, if the child is still in the custody of one or both parents and there has been no willing relinquishment of parental responsibilities, other Illinois law statutes may offer a better option. Most often, these cases will fall under the Juvenile Court Act, wherein a parent must be proven unfit in order for a grandparent to gain custody. Grandparents pursuing this option should be aware that Illinois is one of the few states in which parental rights can actually be regained after losing them, though doing so is a difficult and laborious process.

Potential Issues With Obtaining Grandparents’ Rights

While physical custody is usually a fairly clear-cut issue under whichever law is relevant to your case, the allocation of permanent parental responsibilities can be more complex, and it is much more likely that this could be challenged, especially if one or both parents are still in the picture. There are also other issues, such as the question of where the child will attend school and whether or not the grandparent can obtain medical insurance for the child. Concerns of a financial or clerical nature are also likely.

Perhaps the most common concern in Illinois is related to school district placement, which can be especially problematic due to common misunderstandings about the law. Grandparents cannot move a child to their home solely for the purpose of allowing that child to attend a certain school, but the Illinois School Code states that the residence of the child’s legal custodian is considered their legal residence. This means that as long as you can prove that you are the person with parental responsibilities for that child, your child can use your address to attend school in your school district.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

Taking in a grandchild can be both a rewarding and challenging endeavor, especially at an advanced age. Good grandparents will do everything they can to make sure their grandchild is well taken care of, and doing so may require engaging a knowledgeable family law attorney. Contact a skilled St. Charles child custody lawyer at Goostree Law Group to get the answers to any questions you may have. Call 630-584-4800 for a free consultation today.



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