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Do grandparents have rights under Illinois family law?

Grandparents in Illinois can petition the court to grant access or visitation time with grandchildren. However, Illinois family law does not give grandparents any rights to time with their grandchildren. Some believe that the divorce of the parents of the grandchildren can be as traumatic for the grandparents as it is for the grandchildren. In many cases, one set of grandparents is cut out of the lives of the children as soon as the parents go their separate ways.

Unfortunately, subdued rifts between parents-in-law and sons or daughters-in-law sometimes only surface upon divorce, often causing the severing of ties. One example is a mother who did not think her daughter was ready to have her ears pierced. The child then asked the grandmother who allowed the piercing, to the dismay of her daughter-in-law. When the couple divorced later, that incident caused the mother to alienate the grandchildren from the grandmother.

However, the opposite occurs in many cases. Parents get divorced, and the grandparents are left having to take care of the children. Data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 2.7 million grandparents nationwide took care of their grandchildren in 2012, with numbers growing significantly since then. Sadly, all too often, children become the weapons used by their parents and grandparents.

Illinois grandparents who want help in gaining access to their grandchildren or those whose have become the primary care givers and want to petition for custody to give them rights as guardians are entitled to seek legal guidance. A family law attorney will explain their rights, and after assessing the circumstances of all parties, the options can be explained. However, whatever route is chosen, the best interests of the children will remain the primary concern of the court.

Source: theadvocate.com, "Broken families, broken hearts: The grandparents' guide to divorce", Ted Lewis, July 31, 2017

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Courtney, Clark & Mejias, P.C.
104 South Charles Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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