Under Illinois law, certain family members are permitted to seek visitation privileges with a child, but the privileges will only be granted if specific criteria are met. Unlike the rights of visitation which most non-custodial parents are automatically granted unless there are justifiable reasons not to, legally-recognized visitation must be found to be appropriate by a court with jurisdiction over the case.
Who May Petition?
According the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act—and the amendments to it which take effect in January—a petition for visitation privileges can be filed only by a grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, or stepparent. There are some very limited exceptions to this rule, but, in general, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members do not have standing to request visitation.
A family court will only consider the petition if the child’s parents has unreasonably denied the family member in question access to the child. In addition, the denial of visitation must be causing the child unnecessary physical, mental, or emotional harm. The court, however, must begin with the assumption that the parent has the child’s best interest in mind, and has the right to deny visitation to other family members. The burden of proof is on the petitioning family member to show the parent’s denial of visitation is not reasonable and that it is causing some type of undue harm to the child.
When deciding whether or not to grant visitation privileges to the family member, the court must, by law, consider:
- The child’s wishes, based on the age and maturity of the child;
- The health of the child and the party seeking visitation;
- The length and quality of the existing relationship between the party and the child;
- The good faith of the party seeking visitation and of the parent denying it; and
- How granting visitation would affect the child’s activities and relationships.
Family Lawyer in Illinois
If you are grandparent, sibling, or stepparent who has been unreasonably denied visitation with a minor child, contact an experienced family law attorney in Orland Park. We are also able to assist parents seeking to restrict visitation in order to protect their child’s best interests. No matter type of family law issue you may be facing the team at Kezy & Associates is here to help. Call our office today at 708-518-8200 to schedule your free initial consultation.