Grandmother and her husband (the Youngs) filed a petition for custody of grandmother’s grandchild (J.H.).

In their petition, the Youngs alleged that they had cared for J.H..  Also, they had made decisions on behalf of J.H. since she was an infant.

They alleged that this had been done in agreement with J.H.’s mother.  The mother claimed that the Youngs lacked standing to bring their petition.   The law states that a nonparent can sue for custody of the child. But, only if the child is not in the physical custody of one of his or her parents.

The mother also said that it was not in J.H.’s best interests for the Youngs to have custody.

The trial court heard evidence for a number of months.  Finally, the trial court made its decision.

The court said that the Youngs had standing.   It is not just a matter of who had physical possession of the child at the time the Youngs filed their petition.

And, it was in J.H.’s best interests to award the Youngs primary parental decision-making responsibility for J.H. Mother appealed.

Who had physical custody of the child when the Youngs filed for custody?  There are a number of factors to consider.   (1) who was responsible for the care and welfare of the child prior to the start of the custody proceedings?   (2) the manner in which physical possession of a child was acquired; and (3) the nature and duration of the possession of the child.

The appellate court agreed with the trial court. Mother voluntarily relinquished her parenting responsibilities. Grandmother testified that Mother had asked grandmother to co-parent J.H..   Since that time, the Youngs had steadily taken on additional parenting responsibilities.  J.H. had spent more time in their care.  This had lasted for several years.

Young v. Herman, 2018 IL App (4th) 170001