How Stepparents Can Secure Visits After Divorce

How Stepparents Can Secure Visits After DivorceStepparents can form strong connections with their stepchildren that are similar to the children’s relationships with their biological parents. If the stepparent divorces the biological parent, it may be in the children’s best interest to continue to see their stepparent. Illinois allows stepparents to petition for parental responsibilities or visits with their stepchildren following a divorce. However, the stepparent likely needs the biological parent’s consent in order to see the stepchildren. Obtaining parental responsibilities is rare because it requires proving that the biological parent is unable to perform his or her duties.


A stepparent can request court-ordered visitation with a child after a divorce, but the biological parent must consent to the visits. Illinois law has a rebuttable presumption that a fit biological parent’s choice to deny visitation does not harm the children. The stepparent must prove that denying his or her visitation is unreasonable or harmful to the children. The court will consider:

  • The length and quality of the stepparent’s relationship with the child;
  • The mental and physical health of the child and the stepparent;
  • The wishes of the stepchild, if he or she is mature enough to make that decision;
  • The intentions of the stepparent and the biological parent;
  • The type of visits the stepparent is requesting; and
  • Whether the visits would expose the child to conflict.

You can usually satisfy the court that you have established a relationship with your stepchildren if you have lived with them for at least six consecutive months and have had regular contact with them for 12 consecutive months. Visitation does not have to include the child staying overnight.

Parental Responsibilities

The allocation of parental responsibilities is different for a stepparent than a biological parent because the stepparent is trying to replace the biological parent instead of sharing responsibilities. Stepparents have a high burden of proof when they attempt to obtain parental responsibilities over their stepchildren. Illinois law requires all of the following conditions:

  • The biological parent with a majority of the parenting time is dead or unable to fulfill his or her parental responsibilities;
  • The stepparent has previously cared for the child;
  • The child wants to live with the stepparent; and
  • The court determines it is in the child’s best interest to live with the stepparent.

Role of Stepparents

The stepparent and biological parent must decide whether allowing visitation after their divorce will be healthy for the children. Completely removing a stepparent may traumatize a child who has grown attached to that stepparent. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you make difficult decisions regarding your children. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


Goostree Law Group

Goostree Law Group

 555 S. Randall Road, Suite 200
St. Charles, IL 60174


 1770 Park Street, Suite 205
Naperville IL 60563


 400 S. County Farm Road, Suite 300
Wheaton, IL 60187


Our Illinois divorce attorneys represent clients in Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County and DeKalb County, including Geneva, Batavia, St.Charles, Wayne, Wasco, Elburn, Virgil, Lily Lake, Aurora, North Aurora, Elgin, South Elgin, Bartlett, Crystal Lake, Gilberts, Millcreek, Maple Park, Kaneville, LaFox, Yorkville, Oswego, Plano, Sugar Grove, Big Rock, Bristol, Newark, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, West Chicago, Winfield, Warrenville, Downers Grove, Lombard, Oak Brook, Streamwood, Hoffman Estates, Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Schaumburg, Big Grove, Boulder Hill, Bristol, Joliet, Kendall, Lisbon, Minooka, Montgomery, Plainfield, Sandwich, Yorkville and many other cities.

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