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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.

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Do Grandparents Have Rights to Visitation with Their Grandchildren in Illinois?For some families, the relationship and connection between family members means everything, especially the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. In some situations, the dynamics of a family can deteriorate to the point where the child is no longer allowed to maintain that relationship with his or her grandparent. In Illinois, parents are considered to have inherent rights to spending time with their children. Grandparents are not afforded the same rights, but Illinois laws do give grandparents the ability to ask the court for visitation time in certain situations. 

Can I Ask for Visitation with My Grandchild?

Illinois law presumes that parents will make decisions based on what is in their child’s best interests. If a parent is denying a grandparent visitation time, Illinois courts will assume that there is a reason for it. It is up to you as the grandparent to prove that the denial is actually harming the child in some way. You may be able to obtain visitation rights if one of these criteria apply:

  • The child’s other parent is dead or has been missing for 90 days or more.
  • One parent has been deemed incompetent or unfit.
  • One parent has been in jail or prison for 90 days or more.
  • The child’s parents are divorced, and one parent has no objections to your visitation.
  • The child’s parents were never married, they are not living together, and one of the parents is your child.

Factors Used in Making Determinations

Once you file your petition for visitation, the courts will examine your situation to determine whether your petition should be granted. Though the court will start with the presumption that the parent’s actions and decisions regarding your visitation time are not harmful to the child’s overall well-being, the judge must examine a variety of factors. These factors include:

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Kane County family law attorney, legally incompetent, petition for visitation, visitation rights, grandparents rights, primary caretakerFamily dynamics are complicated. It is not uncommon for a parent to seek visitation rights following a divorce. However, a parent might not be the only family member who wants these rights.

After a divorce, a grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling might want visitation rights as well. There might also be other situations when a family member would petition for visitation, such as when he or she has been unfairly denied by one of the child’s parents.

If one parent has unreasonably denied visitation to a grandparent, great-grandparent or sibling, then one of these individuals may petition for visitation rights. In order for the petition to succeed, one of the following circumstances must exist:

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More and more grandparents in America are “stepping up to help their adult children raise kids,” according to a recent study reported by the Huffington Post. The research was conducted by US 2010, a project that tracks changes in American society. Its findings correspond to a similar study conducted by the Pew Research Center that recently found that “7.7 million U.S. children—one in 10—were living in the same household as one of their grandparents in 2011.” In several of these cases, it’s not as if the grandparent was living with their adult child, having moved in so that their child could help with the ageing process. In most of these cases a single parent had moved back into his or her parents’ home.  More American Children Living With Grandparents IMAGE According to the Huffington Post AARP expert Amy Goyer told the Washington Post that. “grandparents have always been a safety net… adding that nearly 20 percent of grandparents with grandchildren in the house are living below the poverty line.” The 2007–2008 recession added to the number of children living with grandparents across the country, according to the Huffington Post. The study conducted by US 2010 also found that “almost one-third of grandmothers who live with their grandchildren are the primary caregivers.” The percentage of children living with grandparents increased depending on race and socioeconomic status. “Black and Hispanic grandmothers are more likely than white grandmothers to live with grandchildren and black grandmothers are more likely than Hispanic grandmothers to be the primary caregivers,” according to the Huffington Post. It’s not just in opening their homes that grandparents are helping parents out raising children, either. According to a 2012 Reuters report, “the AARP reported that a quarter [of grandparents surveyed] spent more than $1,000 a year on their grandkids, with 37 percent saying that they helped cover daily living costs.” Grandparental visitation and grandparents’ rights are an important aspect of family law, whether the child is living with the grandparent or not. If someone in your family has gone through a divorce and you’re curious about your rights as a grandparent, don’t go through it alone. Seek the counsel of a qualified family law attorney today.  

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