Many grandparents and parents are familiar with the term “grandparents’ rights,” but do not fully understand it as a concept. It does not mean that grandparents automatically have the right to spend time with their grandchildren or seek custody of them by the virtue of being grandparents. What it means is that under certain specific circumstances, grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation with their grandchild. Grandparents’ rights vary from state to state, but they exist in some form in every state. They are an important part of family law, the legal area that governs family relationships.
Circumstances Under Which Grandparents can Sue for Visitation with a Child
In Illinois, grandparents may file petitions for visitation with their grandchildren if an “unreasonable denial of visitation” has occurred. This could be in conjunction with a child’s parents’ divorce, the issuance of a parenting plan, or because there is a reason why the parent through whom the grandparent would access the child cannot facilitate their relationship. This could be because the child’s parent is incarcerated, deceased, legally incompetent, or has been reported as missing to law enforcement. Typically, it is easier for grandparents to be granted visitation rights when one of the child’s parents is unavailable to maintain their relationship with the child.
When both parents are present in a child’s life, a grandparent may seek visitation when the parents are separated, divorced, or in the process of divorcing if at least one of the parents does not object to the grandparent having visitation. If both object, the grandparent’s request is denied.
In order to have court-ordered visitation with a grandparent, a child must be at least one year old....