Illinois established child custody laws for grandparents in certain situations. The laws set forth the procedures utilized to grant grandparents child custody under certain legally defined circumstances. Grandparents in Illinois must understand the basic elements of Illinois laws to pursue a claim for child custody.
Petition for Custody
Absent an agreement from the parent or parents of a child, a grandparent must file a petition for child custody. The petition is filed in the court in the county where the child currently resides. The clerk of the court likely maintains a petition for child custody utilized for this purpose. There are attorneys who specialize in child custody issues available to assist you as well.
Pursuing child custody for grandparents in Illinois involves a concept known as "legal standing." Standing is the legal ability of a grandparent to seek child custody in the first instance. Not every grandparent in all situations possesses legal standing to pursue child custody. Legal standing exists for a grandparent to seek child custody if neither parent maintains physical custody, if the parent serving as the primary caretaker dies or if there is a substantiated allegation of abuse of neglect of the child.
Best Interests of the Child
In considering a grandparent's petition for child custody, Illinois law requires a determination by the court of what is in the best interests of the child. A consideration of the best interests of the child involves determining whether placement of a minor in the custody of a grandparent enhances the health, welfare and safety of that child.
Illinois law strives to ensure that a child is provided a permanent home whenever possible. Therefore, in some situations, a grandparent seeks to adopt a grandchild. Illinois statutes consider this the "final" custodial arrangement for a grandparent. Circumstances that indicate the appropriateness of a grandparent adoption include those involving deceased parents or parents whose rights were terminated because of ongoing and consistent abuse and neglect of the child.
Due to the complexity of Illinois child custody laws for grandparents, obtaining legal representation to pursue such a case typically is a wise decision. The Illinois State Bar Association maintains directories of attorneys in different practice areas to assist you in finding an attorney:
Illinois State Bar Association Illinois Bar Center 424 S. Second St. Springfield, IL 62701-1779 217-525-1760 isba.org