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Illinois Family Law Basics: Visitation for Nonparents

Posted on in Family Law

Parents ultimately get to decide who their child spends time with, but there are some situations in which children are wrongfully withheld from an extended family member. Sometimes, it is out of spite. Other times, it may be due to a particularly messy divorce, separation, or breakup between the parents. In either case, the child may suffer. Thankfully, certain nonparents can seek visitation rights. The following information can help you learn more about this process, including where and why you should seek quality assistance.

Who Can Request Visitation?

While visitation may be denied to a long list of extended family members, only certain ones have the right to seek visitation. These family members include the child's grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, or stepparents. If the grandparents or great-grandparents are on the father's side, paternity must be established before seeking visitation. If the mother and father were married at the time of the child's birth, paternity is already assumed.

Pursuing Nonparent Visitation

Before a nonparent can be awarded visitation, they must prove to the courts that a natural parent is wrongfully withholding the child from them. There must also be proof that the child has or could cause mental, physical, or emotional harm to the child. Lastly, the nonparent must be able to prove at least one of the following to the court:

  • A parent is dead or has been missing (reported to the police) for at least 90 days;
  • A parent has been incarcerated for at least 90 days;
  • A parent has been deemed incompetent;
  • The child was born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together, and the nonparent is a grandparent; or,
  • The child's parents are divorcing or already divorced and at least one parent does not object to the visitation.

When making the determination, the courts will consider several factors, many of which pertain to the child's best interests. These factors include:

  • The child's wishes (depending on age and maturity);
  • Mental and physical health of the child;
  • Mental and physical health of the nonparent;
  • Length and quality of the relationship between the nonparent and child;
  • Good faith of the parents;
  • Good faith of the nonparents;
  • Amount of visitation requested, and if visitation will interfere with the child's schooling or activities;
  • The amount of harm that may come to the child if visitation is denied;
  • If visitation will expose the child to arguments between parents;
  • If the child has lived with the nonparent for at least six months in a row;
  • If the nonparent was the child's primary caretaker for at least six months in a row over the past two years; and
  • If the child visited the nonparent for at least 12 months in a row.

Obtaining Assistance with Your Case

As unfair as it might sound, nonparents often have a difficult time obtaining visitation rights. As such, it is highly recommended that you seek quality legal assistance with your case. At The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C., we believe children need and deserve as many healthy relationships as possible. Our seasoned Wheaton family law attorneys will work hard to achieve favorable results in your case. Call 630-462-9500 and schedule your personalized consultation with us today.



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