5 Things to Know About Grandparent Visitation After a Divorce

5 Things to Know About Grandparent Visitation After a Divorce

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

The matter of grandparent visitation is often a complex and difficult one for many families after a Chicago divorce. In many cases, the issue of grandparent visitation after a divorce will arise when a grandparent or set of grandparents is not spending as much time with the child as they were prior to the divorce, and such scenarios often involve one parent wanting to limit the time their child spends with their grandparents. Regardless of the situation that has given rise to a petition for grandparent visitation, it is important to know more about how Illinois law handles these cases. The following are five things to know about grandparent visitation after a divorce.

  1. 1. Illinois Child Custody Laws Changed to Remove Language of “Custody and Visitation,” But the Law Still Recognizes Visitation When It Involves Non-Parents

Illinois family law and the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) used to use the terms “custody” and “visitation” to refer to parental rights after a divorce. Now, those terms have been replaced with “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” However, the term “visitation” is still used by Illinois courts when a non-parent asks the court to allow him/her to spend time with a child. Non-parents who seek visitation may include grandparents, step-parents, and siblings. 

  1. 2. Visitation is Defined as In-Person Time with a Non-Parent 

The IMDMA defines visitation as “in-person time spent between a child and the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, step-parent, or any other person designated” as a possible non-parent who may be able to seek visitation under Illinois law.

  1. 3. There is a Rebuttable Presumption That a Fit Parent’s Actions Are Appropriate

The IMDMA makes clear that, when a non-parent files a petition for visitation, the non-parent must prove visitation is necessary. In so doing, it is important to recognize there is a rebuttable presumption that a parent’s actions regarding visitation are not harmful to the child’s health.

  1. 4. A Grandparent Who is Seeking Visitation Must File a Petition

To be eligible for visitation under Illinois law, a grandparent seeking visitation must file a petition with the court. Then, the grandparent has the burden “to prove that the parent’s actions and decisions regarding visitation,” or not permitting the grandparent to have visitation, “will cause undue harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.”

  1. 5. Courts Consider Multiple Factors in Deciding Whether to Grant a Petition for Grandparent Visitation

When a court decides to grant visitation to a grandparent, it will look at a wide variety of statutory facts, including the child’s wishes, the child’s mental and physical health, the grandparent’s mental and physical health, the grandparent’s previous relationship with the child prior to the divorce, the amount of visitation time requested, and the good faith of the parties seeking and denying visitation.

Seek Advice from a Chicago Grandparent Visitation Lawyer

If you are seeking grandparent visitation or have concerns about grandparent visitation as a parent with parental responsibilities, it is important to seek advice from a family lawyer. One of the dedicated Chicago grandparent visitation attorneys at our firm can speak with you today about your case. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for more information about the services we provide to clients throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.