Grandparent Custody in Illinois

While grandparents can obtain visitation rights to see and continue to have a lasting and loving relationship with a grandchild in Illinois, they can also obtain custody rights of a grandchild. However, being better financially or emotionally equipped to care for the child is not enough for a grandparent to get child custody

In Illinois, grandparents can only request custody if one of the following situations is true: 

  • The child’s parents voluntarily give up their parental rights – Both parents must voluntarily relinquish their parental rights to the child. Parents may give up their rights to their children for several personal reasons. If both parents relinquish their parental rights, a grandparent may either obtain child custody or even adopt the child. 

  • The child’s parents have been deemed unfit – Grandparents can sue for custody over a grandchild if they can prove to the court that the child’s parents are unfit. Common examples of being considered an unfit parent include physically or emotionally abusing the child, abandoning the child, being addicted to alcohol or drugs, putting the child in an unsafe living environment, being incarcerated, being diagnosed with a mental illness, neglect, or otherwise not being interested in the child’s well-being. These allegations must be supported by viable evidence, such as medical records, criminal records, police reports, photographs, videos, and other forms of documentation. 

When it comes to cases involving abuse or neglect, grandparents can be awarded custody of their grandchildren if there is evidence that the biological parents have been abusive and neglectful toward their kids. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can give grandparents the authority to take care of their grandchild while the agency is the child’s legal guardian, or the grandparents become the child’s legal guardians (i.e., Private Subsidized Guardianship). The latter will occur if reuniting the child with his/her biological parents is out of the question. 

If you are interested in obtaining grandparent visitation or child custody in Chicago, call the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. at (312) 487-2795 or fill out our online contact form today to request a free phone consultation. 

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