How to File a Petition for Grandparent Visitation in Illinois


How to File a Petition for Grandparent Visitation?

Wondering what visitation rights grandparents have in Illinois? Wondering where to start and how to file for grandparent visitation? Illinois courts consider extended family rights, however determining a grandparent's right to spend regular time with a grandchild is a complex issue. Determining when to file a petition for grandparent visitation is also a complex issue and it is rarely successful. There is still an option: private mediation. Learn more below.

Grandparent Visitation Quick Links:

What is Grandparent Visitation?

A coparent in Illinois is granted parenting time with their own child and in most cases can control who the child interacts with or spends time with during that parenting time. Visitation is the term for a person that is not a parent, such as a grandparent, stepparent or sibling, that seeks to have scheduled time with the child. Grandparent visitation is when a grandparent can have scheduled time with their grandchild that, if written in a court order signed by a judge, can be enforceable. Obtaining a court order can be a very difficult process and many grandparents and parents reach out of court agreements to have access to grandchildren.

Our Approach to Grandparent Visitation

Birt Family Law is the family centered law and mediation practice with a focus on restorative divorce and family law; offering creative and supportive legal and mediation solutions with one goal: keeping the separating family out of court and working together towards a peaceful resolution.

We offer multiple options to achieve this goal including mediation, coaching, co-parenting strategies, and restorative divorce services.

Our Services Offered for Grandparent Visitation

1. Mediation

Our first approach and our recommended approach is for the grandparent and parent to privately discuss a visitation schedule in our offices through a resolution process called mediation. If we believe we can help your family, we can offer a free orientation call for grandparents and parents willing to commit to the private, out of court, mediation process. 

In most cases the parent of the child make the decisions for the child and who can spend time with the child. Therefore, a parent could decide to keep their child from a grandparent for various reasons. In Illinois, and many other states, a grandparent has the right to ask a court for a visitation schedule in very limited circumstances. NOTE: If a grandparent does not meet certain criteria and considerations, and if the grandparent ultimately had no prior relationship with a grandchild, it is unlikely a court will grant grandparent visitation rights, however parents and grandparents can discuss establishing a grandparent - grandchild relationship in private mediation sessions.

Mediation is time efficient (mediators are readily available), saves on costs when compared to court, and allows for a more custom visitation schedule than a court is permitted to grant or approve. 

2. Consultant for Court Process/Litigation

Most of our grandparent visitation matters are handled privately through mediation sessions. We will, in very limited cases, work as a consultant with the litigation attorneys that work directly with the court. In order to file a petition in court for grandparent visitation, a grandparent must meet certain criteria to have the ability to ask a court to determine their grandparent rights and visitation schedule. It is very rare that a grandparent meets that criteria.

Litigation is not a time efficient process as most courts are back logged and it can take approximately 12 months before you have a ruling from the court, costs are significant when compared to mediation due to the team of professionals needed to prove the criteria and considerations of the court, and the court can only approve general visitation plans and rarely will create or approve highly custom grandparent visitation plans. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Grandparent Rights

What is the Criteria for Grandparent Visitation Rights?

  1. The child's parents are divorced
  2. The child's parents are legally separated (petitioned a court for a legal separation and at least one parent has no objection to the grandparent's rights to visitation
  3. The parents were never married, and the parents do not live together
  4. One parent, or both parents, are incompetent 
  5. One parent, or both parents, have died or are missing and unable to be located for at least 3 months
  6. One parent, or both parents, are incarcerated for at least 3 months.

What Does the Court Consider for Grandparent Rights?

As stated above, if certain criteria are met, a grandparent can file a petition for visitation. Our firm can help with the preparation of the petition and work directly with a litigation expert to ensure your rights and efforts to enforce your grandparent rights are handled efficiently. The grandparent can file a pleading in a pending divorce or parenting case but if there is no pending case, a petition must be filed in the county where the child resides.

The Court will always consider information relevant to the best interest of the child and that is especially so for grandparent visitation rights. The court will generally consider the following:

  1. The wishes and preferences of the child
  2. Reasons and motivations for seeking grandparent visitation rights
  3. The good faith of the grandparent seeking visitation
  4. The good faith of the parent denying grandparent visitation
  5. The closeness of the relationship between child and the grandparent
  6. How the grandparent's requested schedule will or will not interfere with the child's parenting time schedule and other commitments
  7. Whether the child ever lived with the grandparent
  8. Whether the grandparent was the child's primary caregiver for a period of at least 6 months
  9. The frequency of contact between the child and the grandparent
  10. The health of the child, both mental and physical health
  11. The health of the grandparent, both mental and physical health
  12. Proof that a lack of grandparent visitation would cause physical, mental, or emotional harm to the child.
  13. Whether visitation had be structured that minimizes the child's exposure to conflicts between the grandparent and parent.

What are the Fee Packages for Grandparent Visitation Services?

Mediation: For multiple family member mediation sessions we offer several flat fee packages to help you budget both your costs and time spent in mediation. If all parties agree to try mediation, please contact the office to set a free 15-min introductory telephone call. 

Legal Consulting Services: For one on one private legal consulting or legal team consulting services, we offer hourly rates and fee packages. A legal consultation is required to determine the scope of work needed and an estimate of fees. 

Grandparent Visitation Questionnaire to Get Started

If you are interested in learning more about Grandparent visitation and if you are a good fit for our firm, please fill out our questionnaire today, here. If we are able to assist you, a member of our team will reach out to set a telephone call or planning session. 

Contact Our Illinois and DuPage Grandparent Rights Mediator Today

Grandparent visitation rights is a complex issue that is not limited to the above criteria and considerations. There are time requirements for certain issues and fact specific considerations. A grandparent may also want to seek electronic communication rights. Our experienced parenting mediatorgrandparent rights attorney, Erin Birt, and her team can help you through the emotional and stressful visitation matter. With our help you can develop a schedule and be certain of when you will next communicate with and see your grandchild/ren. Contact us today for a planning session to get started.

Want to keep your family matter out of court? We provide grandparent and parent mediation services both online and in person at our Wheaton, Illinois office.

Our Attorneys

  • Erin Birt

    Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on pa...

  • Tyler Birt

    Since 2007, Tyler Birt has been a legal assistant and bookkeeper fo...

  • Karen Hansel

    As Administrative Assistant at Birt Law, Karen’s involvement in dai...


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Family Centered Divorce ∙ Mediation ∙ Co-Parenting

Birt Family Law is the family centered law and mediation practice with a focus on Restorative Divorce; offering creative and supportive legal and mediation solutions with one goal: keeping the separating family out of court and working together towards a positive resolution.

We offer multiple options to achieve this goal including mediation, coaching, co-parenting strategies, and Restorative Divorce services. 

Are we the right fit for you?

Birt Family Law is committed to keeping the separating family out of court and working together towards a positive resolution.