Stepparent Visitation in Illinois Child Custody Cases
Roughly half of all Illinois marriages end in divorce. The number of women going the nontraditional route of children first, marriage later (and often to partners who are not their child’s parent) is also rising, particularly among women who have children in their 20s. These two facts combined result in a society in which blended families have become commonplace. And contrary to the myth of the cold, selfish and jealous stepparent, many play a pivotal role in raising their partner’s children, and grow to have loving, caring relationships with their stepchildren.
But this relationship may be severed completely if the death or disability of the child’s parent results in custody being given to the non-custodial parent or grandparents, who may hold ill-will toward the stepparent. In these situations, Illinois law grants a stepparent the right to petition the Court for visitation.
Establishing Stepparent Visitation in Illinois
Section 601(b)(3) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act allows the Court to award reasonable visitation to a stepparent in limited circumstances. As in any custody determination, the Court must first find that visitation is in the best interests of the child. The child must also be at least 12 years old in order for the Court to order visitation.
If those two criteria are met, the Court will order reasonable visitation if the child has lived continuously with his parent and stepparent for at least five years, if the child wants visitation, if the child’s parent is deceased or disabled or if the stepparent provided for the care, control and welfare to the child prior to the filing of the petition.
An award of visitation may include face-to-face time, electronic communication (through e-mail, texting or other online modes of communication) or a combination of both. It cannot conflict with any visitation given to other individuals, such as grandparents or the other parent. If the parent or custodian interferes with the stepparent’s visitation rights in any way, the stepparent may turn to the Court to have the order enforced.
Seek an Experienced Illinois Child Custody Attorney
Attorney Nick Richardson understands that the relationship between you and your stepchild is as precious as it would be if you were the child’s biological parent. If custody of your stepchild is being given to his non-custodial parent or another family member due to your spouse’s death or disability, your relationship may be in jeopardy.
You need an experienced Palatine child custody attorney to help you establish visitation and maintain that loving relationship. Serving clients in Palatine and the northwest Chicago suburbs, including Cook, DuPage, Kane and McHenry Counties, Nick Richardson has the experience you need to get the results you want. Contact Nick today for a free consultation.