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Visitation in Illinois: Parental and Grandparent Visitation Rights


Visitation is a concern for parents and grandparents when a couple chooses to get divorced. Although visitation is now referred to as “parenting time” since the January 1, 2016 change in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the concept remains the same.

Of course, the residential custodial parent (i.e. the parent the children will live with) isn’t concerned about visitation. But, what about the other spouse? For that matter, what about grandparents as well?

Parenting time is a tricky issue in any divorce. In this article, we hope to clarify your rights as the non-custodial parent or as a grandparent.

Parenting Time Rights as the Non-Custodial Parent

While there technically is no “residential custodial parent” in many divorces after the changes in Illinois divorce law, children will still spend the majority of their time at one residence. This raises many concerns for the non-custodial parent because he or she will still want a lot of time with the children.

So, how does the court allocate parenting time? In short, it’s in accordance with what the court deems to be the “best interests” of the children.

This is an incredibly broad idea. After all, how does the court actually know what the best interests of the children are? To determine the best interests, the judge will consider up to seventeen different factors. Some of these factors include:

  • The wishes of each parent and the children (if the children are mature enough to reasonably explain their preferences);
  • The caretaking history of each parent (i.e. the amount of time they’ve spent with the children and responsibilities they’ve carried);
  • Interactions and relationships between siblings and with parents;
  • The mental and physical health of the children;
  • The children’s needs;
  • The distance between parental residences and whether a particular parenting schedule makes sense; and
  • Other factors the court finds relevant

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. However, it’s a good illustration of how all of these factors interrelate to help a court come to a decision.

The finalized parenting time schedule is made official in what’s called the Allocation Of Parental Responsibility Judgment. This Judgment is typically filed while your final Judgment For Dissolution Of Marriage and Marital Settlement Agreement are negotiated by your attorney and your spouse’s attorney. As such, it will be used before your divorce is over to determine how you are to split time with the children with your soon-to-be former spouse.

Here is a short sample of how parenting time is often divided according to the Allocation Of Parental Responsibility Judgment:

  • Weekday Visitation – Non-custodial parents typically enjoy visitation for approximately half of the week. The actual days will depend on your schedule and the children’s schedule. For example, you may receive visitation time one weeknight beginning after school or daycare until the following morning until school or daycare and then another weeknight for a more extended period of time. Your Naperville divorce attorney will negotiate on your behalf for the best visitation arrangement possible.
  • Weekend Visitation – Most parents alternate weekend visitation, meaning you’ll receive two weekends with your children each month.
  • Holiday Visitation – Many parenting schedules operate on an odd/even basis. This means that for holidays like Easter, the New Year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthdays you will alternate years with your spouses. The holidays will be divided evenly so you may spend Christmas with your children while your former spouse will enjoy Thanksgiving with the children.
  • Summer Visitation – Most parenting judgments also allocate at least one week of summer vacation time with the children. This allows parents to take children on vacations or otherwise enjoy uninterrupted time with them while they aren’t in school.

Grandparent Visitation Rights in Illinois

If grandparents are denied visitation with their grandchildren for any reason, they too have rights and can go to court to fight for visitation time. The new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act treats a parent’s decision to restrict parenting time as a rebuttable presumption. This means that the burden lies with the grandparents to show that they pose no harm to the children’s mental, physical, or emotional state to have a court consider visitation time.

When the court is deciding whether to allow grandparents visitation rights in Illinois, the following factors are relevant:

  • The children’s preferences, considering they are mature enough to offer valid reasons for these preferences;
  • The mental and physical health of the children;
  • The mental and physical health of the grandparents;
  • The existing relationship between the children and grandparents; and
  • The amount of visitation time requested

Grandparents may petition the court for visitation if:

  • A parent is incompetent;
  • A parent has been either dead or missing for three months;
  • A parent is incarcerated for at least three months before seeking rights for visitation;
  • The children’s parents are divorce legally separated, or there is a dissolution for marriage currently pending and one parent has no objection to the visitation; or
  • The child is born out of wedlock and the parents do not live together

Again, this list is not extensive. However, it demonstrates that as a grandparent, you have rights and can petition the court to spend time with your grandchildren. Of course, doing so can be a challenge depending on why the children’s parents are denying you visitation. However, you may still take steps to ensure you receive the time with your grandchildren.

Contact Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. to Learn More About Your Visitation Rights 

You’re entitled to visitation with your child or children as part of your divorce or as a grandparent. If you feel as if you’re being denied these rights or have questions or concerns regarding visitation, contact Larry for your free 30-minute consultation at 630-470-9990. If you prefer, you may also request an appointment online.

It’s vital that you remain a primary part of your child’s life, even after a divorce. Parenting time allows you to do so and regardless of whether you’re a former spouse or a grandparent, it’s up to you to explore visitation rights to ensure you’re receiving all the time you should be.

We look forward to speaking with you and offering our 35 years of expertise to ensure you spend all the time you can with your children or grandchildren.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.