May 12, 2019

Grandparents Visitation Rights Lawyer Chicago, IL

Grandparents Visitation Rights Lawyer Chicago, IL

Family Lawyer

As a grandparents visitation rights lawyer in Chicago, IL from Hurst, Robin, Kay & Allen, LLC may tell you, the talented and respected author Alex Haley once mused that: “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” Unfortunately, not all grandparents who care about their grandchildren and want to remain active in their lives are given the opportunity to exercise this kind of influence. Due to any number of challenges, grandparents and grandchildren are sometimes kept apart.

As a result, many grandparents are left wondering whether they have any legal rights to see their grandchildren, either at the holidays or on a fairly regular basis. The answer to this general query is not straightforward in nature. A host of different factors, including state law and family-specific circumstances, impact the answer to this question when any particular grandparent seeks it out. As a result, it is a good idea to speak with our team when exploring any rights you may have to grandparent visitation. If you contact our firm, we will be happy to speak with you in order to provide you with insight after we learn about your particular situation.

To discover what visitation rights grandparents have in Chicago, IL, consult our lawyer at Hurst, Robin, Kay & Allen, LLC. If you are a grandparent who has been blocked from having contact with your grandchild or fear that you may be in the future, it’s important to understand your legal rights as well as limitations. Not all grandparents who petition the court for visitation are successful. This can be because they do not meet eligibility criteria or it may be because they did not hire a grandparents visitation rights lawyer in Chicago, Illinois. Others who already have access to their grandchildren may wish to gain additional visitation time will probably not be successful in petitioning a judge to get more time. Also, if the child’s parents have lost their custody rights then the grandparents will probably lose all visitation rights through our lawyer in Chicago, IL can verify this after a review of the circumstances.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling on Grandparents Visitation Rights

Though state laws vary when it comes to details regarding grandparents’ visitation rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that grandparents have the legal right to visit their grandchildren with certain considerations. Our grandparents visitation rights lawyer in Chicago, IL can determine if any of the following apply in your case:

  • The parents’ reason for not allowing you to visit your grandchildren may affect the Judge’s ruling on your petition for visitation rights. For example, if the child’s parent claims that you are a danger to the child and that is why they do not want to give you visitation rights, a judge may want to consider the evidence of this before ruling.
  • If the parent claims that your visitations will infringe on their own rights to spend time with their child, or cause the parent or the child great stress, a judge may not rule in your favor.

 Seeking Custody of a Grandchild

 Beyond visitation rights, in some cases, a grandparent may wish to gain custody of their grandchild. Most often this occurs when the legally recognized parent is deemed unfit to take care of their child and a grandparent steps in to take their place. That said, though one parent of the child may have neglected or abused a child, this does not guarantee that the grandparent will be granted custody. The child’s other parent will normally be granted priority over a grandparent for custody. However, the court has the responsibility to consider the child’s best interest in determining who should be granted custody. As our grandparents visitation rights lawyer in Chicago, IL might tell you, a grandparent could be granted custody under one of the following circumstances:

  1. If the child has only one parent and that parent is deemed unfit to take care of the child, the grandparent might gain custody.
  2. If one of the child’s parents dies, and their other parent is deemed unfit, the grandparent might gain custody.
  3. If both of the child’s parents are deemed unfit, the grandparent might gain custody.

 To learn more about your rights as a grandparent, call us today to discuss your case with our grandparents visitation rights lawyer in Chicago, IL.

When Grandparents are Granted Visitation or Custody

Fit parents are granted a great deal of authority over their children under the law. In addition to their ability to make decisions about their children’s residences, education, and medical care, they are also generally allowed to determine who their children do and do not come into prolonged contact with. If a parent determines at the start of a child’s life that that child will not have a relationship with a specific cousin, aunt, uncle, or even a grandparent, the law tends to respect that decision.

However, there are circumstances under which grandparents may be granted visitation or even custody of their grandchildren. Most of the time, visitation can be granted if the grandparent has developed a significant bond with the child. With help from a grandparents visitation rights lawyer in Chicago, custody may be granted to a grandparent if at least one parent has been deemed unfit, has terminated parental rights, or is otherwise no longer legally empowered to deny the child access to that grandparent. If you have questions about grandparent custody or visitation, please do not hesitate to connect with an experienced Chicago, IL grandparents visitation rights lawyer to explore your legal options.

Restrictive Versus Permissive Laws

State laws differ when it comes to grandparent visitation rights. Most state laws are permissive in nature, meaning that third parties (individuals who are neither biological nor adoptive parents of a child in question) may seek visitation when they feel they meet a state’s criteria for such permissions. However, some state laws are restrictive. Practically speaking, restrictive laws generally only allow third parties to seek visitation in the event that a child’s parents have divorced or at least one parent has died. Restrictive laws tend to uphold parental preference above a third party’s right to seek visitation. It is important to speak with our firm about any restrictive laws that may impact your case, whether you opt to seek visitation within this state or across state lines.

Custody Considerations

Visitation is different than custody under the law. If you hope to have your grandchild live with you and/or you want to be able to make legal decisions on your grandchild’s behalf, you may want to seek custody of that child as opposed to visitation. This is one reason why speaking with a Chicago grandparents visitation rights lawyer is so important. The nuances of the law often result in clients changing their goals after they have been better informed about their legal options.

Visitation Guidance Is Available

If you have questions about grandparent visitation rights, please consider scheduling a consultation with our firm. Once we better understand the specifics of your situation, we will be able to advise you of any legal options that may be available to you. We are passionate about helping families stay together and about advancing the best interests of children affected by family legal disputes. Please consider allowing us to support you as you explore your legal options. Whether you ultimately choose to pursue legal action, request mediation or opt not to act at this time, we want to make sure that your decision-making is as informed as possible.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

Contentious child custody and visitation matters are universally resolved according to the “best interests of the child” standard. This standard holds (broadly) that when two parties are in disagreement over child custody and/or visitation rights (and both parties are eligible to have their preferences enforced under the law) that a judge must rule according to whatever arrangement is in the child’s best interests. When a grandparent meets the criteria for guardianship and/or visitation, an IL grandparents visitation rights lawyer from Hurst, Robin, Kay & Allen, LLC may argue in court that granting a custody or visitation request is in the best interests of the child in question.

While it is true that child custody and visitation matters are resolved according to the best interests of the child standard, that standard is subjectively applied by each judge individually. As a result, some situations that one judge might perceive as in a child’s best interests may be perceived differently by an alternative judge. It is partially for this reason that it is so important to consult with our team about your family’s situation before committing to a specific legal approach to custody and/or visitation. Constructing the strongest possible legal strategy will help to ensure that you have the best possible chance at prevailing in regards to any contentious custody and/or visitation scenarios you may currently be facing.

Is Legal Action the Right Option for My Family?

Many parents and grandparents are not familiar with the term grandparents’ rights until a disagreement arises between the parents and grandparents, or one of the parents dies, and the grandparents’ relationship with their grandchildren is discontinued. When the grandparents no longer have access to or are limited in the amount of time they can spend with their grandchildren, they may begin to explore their legal rights to visitation with their grandchildren. A grandparents visitation rights lawyer in Chicago, IL can help.

In deciding cases requesting grandparents’ rights to visitation, courts begin with a presumption that fit parents have a right to make the appropriate decisions regarding who their children can see. This is because the Supreme Court of the United States has held that parents have a constitutional right to make decisions on the care, custody, and control of their children.

Nevertheless, Illinois law allows grandparents to make a request for visitation with their grandchildren under certain circumstances. Illinois law specifically states that a petition for grandparents’ visitation can only be filed if there is an unreasonable denial of visitation by the parent, the denial has caused the grandchild harm, and at least one of several other criteria are met. The law also focuses on the best interest of the child, and if there is a chance that visitation with the grandparent will cause emotional, physical, or mental harm to the grandchild, then chances are visitation will not be awarded to the grandparents.

Custody Rights

As a Chicago, IL grandparents visitation rights lawyer can explain, grandparent petitions for custody rights are allowed under a narrower set of circumstances where the child is not in the physical custody of a parent. Grandparents who want to apply for parental responsibilities have to show that a parent who was their child is deceased and that at the time of the death, one of these factors existed:

  •       The surviving parent was missing from the marital home without the deceased spouse knowing his or her whereabouts
  •       The surviving parent was in prison
  •       The surviving parent was convicted of certain crimes 

In deciding whether to award custodial or visitation rights to the grandparents, the courts do look at the relationship the grandparents and grandchildren had before. If there was a strong relationship, and the child lived with the grandparents without suffering any harm, it can make a more compelling case for visitation.

Reconciliation does not always work in a situation where parents and grandparents do not get along and the grandparents’ relationship with the grandchildren is limited. If your child’s grandparents are seeking custody or visitation rights with your children, you should consult a passionate Chicago, IL grandparents visitation rights lawyer to find out what options you have.

The attorneys at our grandparents visitation rights law firm in Chicago, IL Hurst, Robin, Kay & Allen, LLC, understand that child custody battles tend to be stressful and upsetting to the parents and the children involved. However, many of our child custody clients have preconceived notions about how the case will play out in court. Sometimes these myths can keep clients from challenging custody arrangements. They can also lead to a defeatist attitude or an invincible attitude.

We have found that it is better if our clients know what to expect regarding visitation rights and custody arrangements. Consulting with an experienced attorney at your local grandparents visitation rights law firm in Chicago, Illinois is critical.

Myth #1: The Mother is Preferred and Usually Wins

The law doesn’t actually have a predilection these days towards the mother. While mothers can and do win custody battles, they lose just as often. The court wants to determine who can provide the best environment for the child. Judges recognize that both the mother and father should play an important role in the child’s life. Regardless of the final decision, the court typically seeks to award custody in such a way that both parents can actively participate in raising their children. 

Myth #2: Sole Custody Is a Common Solution

As your grandparents visitation rights lawyer Chicago, IL clients trust for information may tell you, sole custody is rarely a solution offered by the courts. While one parent might be granted sole physical custody and sole legal custody, the courts will almost always grant visitation rights to the other parent. Unless the parent has done something that severely challenges the court’s ability to see them as a responsible or caring human being, both parents will be awarded some form of visitation. 

Myth #3: Once the Court Decides, Nothing Will Ever Change

We see many clients who are concerned that child custody arrangements and visitation rights will be set for eternity once they are decided by a court of law. This simply isn’t true. The court is well aware that situations change as do people. If there is a valid reason to change custody arrangements in the future, the court is willing and available to make changes.

The permanence of a court decision is typically a few months at a minimum, but for young children in particular it is possible and likely that the court will update the custody and visitation arrangements if a parent requests an update. 

Myth #4: Grandparents Cannot Gain Visitation Rights

The ultimate struggle over child custody and visitation rights is generally between the two parents of the child. However, grandparents often step in when one parent is incapacitated or cannot properly care for a child. In cases where both parents are incapacitated, a grandparent may even win sole custody of the child with limited visitation rights given to the two parents.

If the grandparents feel that they need visitation rights in order to help the child properly develop and that they have legitimate fears about whether or not they will be able to see the child, courts may rule in favor of the grandparents and provide visitation rights. If this sounds like a situation you are currently in, then contact an attorney from our Chicago, IL grandparents visitation rights law firm right away. 

Myth #5: Courts Care Most About the Parent’s Needs

The attorneys from our IL grandparents visitation rights law firm knows that courts do not care most about the parent’s needs. Instead, courts care most about the needs of the child and what living arrangement will be in their best interest. The “best interests of the child” is considered the standard in family law courts. The child’s best interests are determined by looking at who can provide the best physical, emotional, and developmental support to the child.

We understand how difficult this process can be and we will be with you every step of the way. We will help you find the arrangement that works for you, your ex-partner, and most importantly your child. For more information on custody arrangements and visitation arrangements, please contact the attorneys at Hurst, Robin, Kay & Allen, LLC, a Chicago grandparents visitation rights law firm you can trust.

Legal Guidance Is Available

This area of law is fairly complex, so it will help us to understand the details of your family’s situation before advising you of your legal options. Once we have learned about your family’s unique circumstances and your goals for your case, we will be able to provide you with guidance and support. Navigating child custody and visitation matters is a uniquely personal stressor, as virtually nothing in life is more important than ensuring the well-being of children. Please understand that you do not have to weather the legal side of these challenges alone. If you have questions about the rights of grandparents in regards to custody and/or visitation, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with a Chicago, IL grandparents visitation rights lawyer today, as the team at Hurst, Robin, Kay & Allen, LLC is here to help.