In January 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was amended, and a new section was added that created the right of certain family members who are not parents to file a petition for visitation with a child. This new section applies to grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, and step-parents of a child.
Petitions for visitation by non-parents can be brought by grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, or step-parents only in cases where there has been an unreasonable denial of visitation by the child’s parent, and the denial has caused the child undue mental, physical, or emotional harm. The judge will consider many factors in these cases, such as
the wishes of a mature child, the length and quality of the relationship with the child, the intentions of the parties involved, and the current and prior living arrangements with the child.
In addition, the amended law provides that when a parent in the military is deployed, he or she may file a motion to allow another family member or person known to have what is now called “substitute visitation.”
These changes in the law are very important to preserving the bonds children have with their extended families. The previous version of the law regarding family members’ rights to visitation required a finding by the court that a parent was unfit to be a parent before an extended family member could have visitation with a child. Now, there is a lower burden to meet, which makes it easier for extended family members to seek visitation. The amendments also further the goal of preserving relationships with both sides of a child’s family, parent in the armed forces is serving our country.
If you or a family member are seeking visitation rights with a child in your family, please contact us to set up a free, one-hour consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.