All aspects of a family are affected by divorce. Not only are the children of divorce affected by the marital dissolution, the parents of the parents are also affected. Grandparent rights are often considered the most complicated visitation arrangements to be settled during a divorce, and not all grandparents have a right to visitation. According to The Huffington Post, “a grandparent cannot file a motion for visitation when both parents of a grandchild are still married.” If parents are living separately or the living circumstances of the parents are unknown, grandparents may have a better chance to qualify for visitation rights.
Each state has varying conditions for grandparent visitation rights. In Illinois, the same statute that lays out conditions for parental custody and visitation rights governs grandparent visitation rights. Grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings of a minor child all have the same right to petition the court for visitation rights. However, these family members have the right to petition the court only if the court decides that the parents are denying these family members “unreasonable denial of visitation.”
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) reports several reasons why divorced parents would deny grandparental visitation. If the child was particularly close with the parents of an ex-spouse during a controversial divorce, a custodial parent may want to keep the child away from the ex-spouse’s family. The AARP also notes several cases in which paternal grandparents “cannot see their grandchildren because their current or ex-daughter-in-law does not want them to.” In some instances the grandparents in this situation may have legal recourse; however, this is not always the case.
There are not laws in any states, according to the AARP, that automatically guarantee grandparents visitation rights to their grandchildren. Therefore, the AARP suggests that families “focus on effective communication” to avoid or to put an end to grandparental visitation disputes, regardless of the circumstances caused by the divorce.
If you or someone you know has questions about grandparental visitation in Illinois, the importance of seeking the counsel of a family lawyer cannot be overstated. Contact a DuPage County divorce attorneytoday.