Visitation for Non-Parents After a Divorce
Divorces in DuPage County can be contentious, particularly when a married couple shares minor children from the marriage. When a couple does divorce, it can also be difficult for extended family members to hear that they will not automatically be granted time with the children. Many Muslim families in Oakbrook Terrace with young children involve grandparents in the children’s lives, and it can be devastating for grandparents to learn that they might not be spending as much time with the children once the divorce is finalized and the allocation judgment outlines parental responsibilities and parenting time. In some situations, a grandparent or another non-parent (such as an adult sibling or a step-parent) might try to seek the equivalent of parental responsibilities.
Do courts ever grant rights to grandparents and other non-parents? In limited circumstances, the court may determine such an arrangement is in the child’s best interests. Our experienced DuPage County family lawyers can explain in more detail.
Visitation By Certain Non-Parents Under Illinois Law
Under Illinois law, this issue is covered by a statutory section on visitation by certain non-parents. Although the term “visitation” is no longer used to refer to parental rights (and has been replaced with language of “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time”), the term visitation is still used when a non-parent is seeking certain communication or time with the child.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) defines visitation as “in-person time spent between a child and the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, step-parent,” or other certain non-parents specifically designated under Illinois law. In situations where a non-parent wants the equivalent of parenting time—visitation for non-parents—with a child, then that person can file a petition with the court. The petition can be filed in a pending divorce case where the court will be allocating parental responsibilities, or it can be filed after a divorce is finalized. The petition must be filed in the county where the child currently resides.
Situations in Which a Non-Parent Can File a Petition for Visitation
Illinois law specifies that a non-parent can only file a petition for visitation if there has been an unreasonable denial of visitation by a parent and the denial has caused the child undue mental, physical, or emotional harm. Accordingly, if a grandparent or another non-parent simply wants to spend more time with the child—as much time, for example, as the grandparent spent with the child when the parents were married—that reduction of time with the grandchild due to the realities of the divorce case will not be enough for the court to consider visitation.
To be clear, for a court to consider visitation for a non-parent, that non-parent must have unreasonably been denied time with the child, and the unreasonable denial must have caused harm to the child.
How a Court Considers Non-Parent Visitation
In cases like these, 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. As such, the non-parent seeking visitation has the burden of proving that the denial of visitation will cause undue harm to the child.
Contact an Oakbrook Terrace Family Lawyer
At Farooqi & Husain Law Office, we know how complicated and contentious divorces can be for Muslim families in DuPage County. Our skilled Oakbrook Terrace family law attorneys are here to help. Contact us today online or call us at 630-909-9114 for more information.