Seek Access to Your Grandchildren

Biological and adoptive parents are not the only individuals who have standing to seek visitation with a child. Third parties, especially grandparents, may also have rights to visitation, and even custody in certain cases.

Our Chicago grandparent visitation attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. are skilled and experienced in addressing visitation and custodial rights for grandparents and other third parties such as step-parents and siblings.

Contact us online or call us at (312) 487-2795 to discuss your case with our team.

He was very professional, knowledgeable, approachable, and he explained the process very clearly


As a grandparent, you probably love spending time with your grandchildren – and you may be wondering about your legal right to visit them and spend time with them. There are no federal laws governing grandparents’ rights, but Illinois family law does extend a limited legal right to grandparents – especially if the parents of the grandchildren are divorced.

Sometimes, family dynamics lead to a parent denying a grandparent of visitation time with the grandchildren. If this is the case, you may seek court-ordered visitation time with your grandchildren.

The court may grant visitation if:

  • One or both of the child’s parents are unfit
  • One of the child’s parents has been incarcerated for at least three months
  • One of the child’s parents is deceased or absent
  • The parents are divorced and at least one parent agrees to grant visitation to the grandparent
  • The child’s parents are unmarried and do not live together

The biggest determining factor in whether a request for visitation will be granted is if it is in the best interests of the children. When deciding grandparent visitation rights, the Court will consider:

  • The preferences of the children (if the children are of sufficient maturity)
  • The physical and mental health of the children
  • The physical and mental health of the grandparent
  • The relationship between the children and the grandparent
  • Whether the children ever lived with the grandparent
  • Whether the children have had frequent contact with the grandparent during their lives
  • Several other factors affecting the children’s best interests

How to Get Grandparent Visitation Rights in Illinois

Grandparent visitation in Illinois is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Part VI - Allocation Of Parental Responsibilities.

Grandparents are permitted to petition for visitation with their grandchildren by filing a case in the circuit court of the county where the children reside. They may also file a petition for grandparent visitation and/or any electronic communication rights within the parents’ divorce case or any other court case involving custody of the children.

There are two threshold requirements that must be satisfied before a grandparent petitions for visitation:

  1. The children at issue must be at least one year old; and
  2. One of the children’s parents must be unreasonably denying the grandparent time with the children.

If these two requirements are satisfied, then the grandparent must be able to show that one of the following conditions exists:

  • The children’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least three months;
  • One of the children’s parents is incompetent; OR
  • The children’s parents are divorced, are in the process of getting divorced, are legally separated, or are parties to a custody dispute; AND one of the children’s parents does not object to the grandparent having visitation with the children.

Once one of these conditions is met, the Court will next look to the particular facts of the case. The burden is always on the grandparent to show that the parent’s refusal to allow the grandparent to spend time with the children is harmful to the children, which can be difficult because, in Illinois, there is a presumption that a parent’s decisions regarding their children are not harmful.

Chicago Grandparent Visitation FAQ:

Can grandparents seek visitation if the grandchild is adopted or placed in foster care?

In Illinois, grandparents generally do not have an automatic right to visitation if the grandchild has been adopted by someone other than a stepparent or placed in foster care. However, the court may grant visitation rights to grandparents if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child and if the grandparents can demonstrate a pre-existing relationship with the child that would be beneficial to maintain.

Can grandparents seek visitation if one of the parents has passed away?

Yes, grandparents in Illinois can seek visitation rights if one of the child's parents has passed away. The court will consider the best interests of the child and may grant visitation if it is determined to be in the child's best interests and if the grandparents can show a pre-existing relationship with the child.

What happens if the parents deny or interfere with grandparent visitation rights?

If the parents deny or interfere with grandparent visitation rights that have been legally established by the court, the grandparents can seek enforcement through the legal system. They may file a motion to enforce visitation rights, and the court can intervene to ensure that the visitation order is upheld. The court may impose penalties or sanctions on parents who deliberately interfere with court-ordered visitation.

Discuss Your Grandparent Visitation Case with Us Today

Every case is different, and there are a lot of factors to consider when seeking visitation rights with a grandchild or a child in your life. It is in your best interest to seek counsel from our Chicago grandparent visitation attorneys to see if you may have a strong claim for visitation rights.

Give us a call at (312) 487-2795 or contact us online to get started.

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