Grandparent, Sibling and Step-Parent Visitation Rights in Illinois

In Illinois, there is a rebuttable presumption that a fit parent’s actions and decisions regarding grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, or step-parent visitation are not harmful to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health. The burden is on the party filing a petition to prove that the parent’s actions and decisions regarding visitation will cause undue harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health and if at least one of the following conditions exists: (A) the child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 90 days. For the purposes of this subsection a parent is considered to be missing if the parent’s location has not been determined and the parent has been reported as missing to a law enforcement agency; or (B) a parent of the child is incompetent as a matter of law; or (C) a parent has been incarcerated in jail or prison for a period in excess of 90 days immediately prior to the filing of the petition; or (D) the child’s parents have been granted a dissolution of marriage or have been legally separated from each other or there is pending a dissolution proceeding involving a parent of the child or another court proceeding involving parental responsibilities or visitation of the child (other than an adoption proceeding of an unrelated child, a proceeding under Article II of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, or an action for an order of protection under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 or Article 112A of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963) and at least one parent does not object to the grandparent, great-grandparent, step-parent, or sibling having visitation with the child. Furthermore, in determining whether to grant visitation, the court shall consider the following: (A) the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to visitation; (B) the mental and physical health of the child; (C) the mental and physical health of the grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, or step-parent; (D) the length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, or step-parent; (E) the good faith of the party in filing the petition; (F) the good faith of the person denying visitation; (G) the quantity of the visitation time requested and the potential adverse impact that visitation would have on the child’s customary activities; (H) any other fact that establishes that the loss of the relationship between the petitioner and the child is likely to unduly harm the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health; and (I) whether visitation can be structured in a way to minimize the child’s exposure to conflicts between the adults. There are additional considerations that are unique to each case and there are many sections within the Illinois statute that address unique factors, which is why it is advised to discuss these rights with a family law attorney. Reach out to us at


Jennifer R. Ward has exclusively practiced in the matrimonial and family law field for nearly 20 years. Furthermore, Ms. Ward is Adjunct Faculty at the John Marshall Law School teaching family law legal drafting to law students and has done so since 2005.

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