After a divorce, a child’s connection to their grandparents and other close relatives can provide a much-needed sense of stability. But what if one parent does not care for their in-laws and does not support the children having visitation time with those grandparents? What rights does a now-divorced step-parent or half-sibling have to spend time with a child that they lived with for years? Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/602.9) provides a mechanism for grandparents, great-grandparents, step-parents, and siblings--including half-siblings and step-siblings--to assert their right to visit and electronically communicate with a minor child who is at least one year old.
Four conditions must exist in order for the aforementioned relatives to petition the court for visitation and electronic communication with the child:
In deciding whether to grant visitation time to one of these relatives, the court may consider factors such as:
What this boils down to is, a grandparent (or other petitioner) will have to show that the child has formed a bond with the grandparent and that severing this attachment will harm the child. As in all child custody and visitation decisions, all facts presented to the court will be weighed to determine the best interests of the child. The law also states that the court may grant visitation time so long as that does not diminish the parenting time of the unrelated parent.
One of the greatest challenges in grandparent visitation matters can be distance, particularly when the non-related parent has primary custody and chooses to relocate with the children. Electronic communication, including video chats, can be a good solution, as long as the custodial parent is willing to make the effort.
If your child’s right to maintain a relationship with their grandparents or siblings is threatened by your former spouse, you may need to encourage the relatives to petition the court for visitation rights. An experienced Lombard family law attorney can advise you regarding an appropriate course of action. Call Mevorah Law Offices LLC at 630-932-9100 for a free initial consultation.
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