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What rights do grandparents have in a child custody dispute?

42254580_S.jpgChild custody disputes typically pit one parent against another, often in the midst of a difficult divorce. It can be hard for two parents to agree on important childcare decisions at such a time, but each party has rights and responsibilities that go with parenting.

But what about grandparents? What rights do they have when it comes to their grandchildren?

Illinois lawmakers and courts have struggled for years to address the question of grandparents' rights. In 2002, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a state law that provided grandparents with rights to visitation, ruling that it violated the state constitution. Three years later, the state enacted a new law that allows grandparents to secure a court order for visitation with their grandchildren. However, the law is strictly limited, and courts will only grant these orders in certain specified conditions.

Generally, a court may order visitation by a grandparent if the court finds it is in the best interest of the child, and if the court finds that the grandparent has been denied visitation in a way that is unreasonable. However, even if these conditions are met, the court generally may not order visitation if both parents object to it.

There are a number of more detailed requirements, as well. No doubt many grandparents feel discouraged to read about them. Still, with strong and smart legal representation, grandparents can secure rights to visit their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent who has been denied visitation with your grandchild, you may try contacting an attorney who practices family law. A skilled lawyer can help you understand your options to assert your rights.

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