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Joliet family law attorneysWhen a child is being raised by a single parent, grandparents often play an important role in the child’s life by assisting with child care and financial support, and simply by being a loving and positive presence. Usually, even when grandparents are heavily involved, the parents still maintain parental rights and the authority to initiate legal proceedings regarding the child. However, there are some cases in which Illinois grandparents may seek legal rights regarding their grandchildren.

Can Grandparents Petition for Child Custody in Illinois?

Illinois now refers to child custody matters using the term “allocation of parental responsibilities,” and in most cases, a child’s parents are the ones with the authority to petition for legal action in this area, whether they are doing so as part of the divorce process or they have never been married. However, a grandparent may be able to do so if the child is not in the physical custody of either parent, or if the parent who is related to the grandparent is deceased, and one of the following is true of the other parent:

  • He or she has been absent from the home in an unknown location for at least a month
  • He or she is in federal or state custody
  • He or she has a criminal record that includes domestic violence toward the child or the child’s other parent

Are Grandparents Entitled to Visitation?

While it may be hard for grandparents to be prevented from seeing their grandchildren, in most cases, a child’s parents have the authority to decide how much time their children spend with their grandparents. However, grandparents can sometimes seek visitation rights if they can demonstrate that the child is harmed by a parent prohibiting visitation and any of the following is true:

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