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Can I Deny a Grandparent Visitation with my Children?

Posted in Visitation on Monday, June 28th, 2021

In the State of Illinois, as long as a child’s parents are fit parents – which all parents are presumed to be unless proven otherwise – it is completely within their parents’ discretion to determine whether or not the child can spend time with his or her grandparents (or with anyone else). While a grandparent has the right to petition the court for visitation with his or her grandchildren, there is a considerable legal burden involved. If you have concerns regarding your children and visitation with their grandparent, don’t wait to discuss the matter with an experienced Joliet family law attorney. 

The Burden of Proof

In Illinois, your children’s grandparent can petition the court for the right to visitation with your children, but the burden of proof is substantial, and it rests entirely on him or her. In order for the court to grant visitation, your children’s grandparent would have to demonstrate that not doing so would lead to one of the following negative consequences:

  • Physical harm to your children
  • Emotional harm to your children
  • Mental harm to your children

These are serious matters, and this burden of proof is very difficult to meet. The court may also take other factors into consideration, such as if your children’s grandparent can prove that he or she had a healthy and consistent relationship with your children prior to its subsequent end. However, Illinois courts typically support parents’ rights to raise their children as they see fit, which means that even a strong relationship in the past may not move the needle on the matter. 

The Supreme Court Weighs In

The matter of third-party visitation is so weighty that a related Washington State case made its way all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020, and the Supreme Court concurred – third parties cannot force their way into children’s lives without the approval of the children’s parents. As such, you – as the parent – are left to make important decisions regarding whether or not your children will be allowed to spend time with their grandparents. 

The State of Illinois’s Decision-Making Process

There are some situations in which an Illinois court will grant a third party (such as a grandparent) visitation, but one of the following strict guidelines must be met (in addition to the burden of proof above):

  • One or both of the children’s parents must have been missing or in jail for at least 90 days
  • One or both of the children’s parents must have been declared unfit
  • One or both of the children’s parents must be deceased

In addition to these considerable hurdles, the court is unlikely to award grandparent visitation if he or she doesn’t have a prior relationship with the children involved.  

Reach out to an Experienced Joliet Family Law Attorney Today

The compassionate family law attorneys at Sabuco, Beck, P.C. in Joliet recognize how difficult matters related to visitation and third parties are, and we are committed to employing our considerable experience and skill in helping you obtain a beneficial resolution that works for you and your children. For more information, please don’t wait to contact us today.

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