Stepparent And Grandparent Rights


Parents Other Than Biological Parents Play A Crucial Role

In many families and blended families, stepparents and grandparents play a crucial role in raising children. For many children, a stepparent or grandparent may be the only mother or father they know because of the role that adult has played in their lives. These stepparents and grandparents want what is best for the children of their spouses, stepping in and acting as the strong parent the child needs.

Stepparents’ Rights

At Buffalo Grove Law Offices, we assist stepparents in obtaining legal rights and adoption. This can be a complicated process, requiring approval from several individuals, often including the biological parent. Even if this parent has been absent through much or all of the child’s life, he or she is still entitled to certain parental rights and must sign off on a stepparent adoption. We help to secure this approval. When necessary, we will present a case at court to bypass this approval given the biological parent’s history with the child.

In the case of a custody proceeding in which a stepparent has standing (the right to proceed in court), the court presumes that it is in the best interest of the minor child that the natural parent have the custody of the minor child unless the stepparent is able to overcome that presumption. The stepparent then has the opportunity to show the court why the stepparent is truly the best person to care for the child.

A stepparent has the right to file a petition in court for custody if the following conditions have been met:

  • the child is at least 12 years old;

  • the custodial parent and the stepparent were married for at least 5 years during which time the child resided with the parent and the stepparent;

  • the custodial parent is deceased or is disabled and cannot perform the duties of a parent to the child;

  • the stepparent provided for the care, control, and welfare to the child prior to the initiation of the custody proceedings;

  • the child wishes to live with the stepparent; and

  • it is in the best interest of the child to live with the stepparent.

Grandparents’ Rights

We also assist grandparents seeking to play a role in the raising of the children gain legal rights. This may be for a number of reasons, among them parents being irresponsible in their parental duties. In other situations, the parents may be actively trying to block the grandparents from seeing the children.

In either scenario, we help grandparents present a case to the court, arguing for their rights such as custody or visitation. We are committed to getting results that are in the best interests of the children.

Grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings of a minor child, who is one year old or older, have the right to bring an action in court. The term “sibling” means a brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister of the minor child. Grandparents, great-grandparents, and siblings also have the right to file a petition for visitation and electronic communication rights in a pending divorce case or any other proceeding that involves custody or visitation rights. The person who is filing the petition may do so if there is an unreasonable denial of visitation by a parent and at least one of the following conditions exists:

  • the child’s other parent is deceased or has been missing for at least 3 months.

  • a parent of the child is incompetent;

  • a parent has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the three month period just before the filing of the petition;

  • the child is born out of wedlock, the parents are not living together, and the petitioner is a maternal grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling of the child born out of wedlock;

In determining whether to grant visitation, the court shall consider the following:

  • the child’s preference, if the child is mature enough to express a preference;

  • the mental and physical health of the child;

  • the mental and physical health of the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling;

  • the length and the quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling;

  • the good faith of the party in filing the petition;

  • the good faith of the person denying visitation;

  • the quantity of the visitation time requested and the potential adverse impact that visitation would have on the child’s customary activities;

  • whether the child resided with the petitioner for at least 6 consecutive months with or without the current custodian present;

  • whether the petitioner had frequent or regular contact or visitation with the child for at lest 12 consecutive months;

  • any other fact that establishes that the loss of the relationship between the petitioner and the child is likely to harm the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health; and

  • whether the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling was a primary caretaker of the child for a period of not less than 6 consecutive months.

The court can order visitation rights for the grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling that includes reasonable access to the child without requiring overnight or possessory visitation.

A grandparent must clearly show the court the grandparent’s involvement in the child’s life, if the grandparent has such evidence. The parent has the opportunity in court to show (if the parent has the evidence) that the grandparent interferes with the parent’s decision-making authority. This interference can be shown by, for example, the grandparent’s attempts to poison the child’s mind against the parent, etc.

We will thoroughly assess the situation and determine what needs to be done for the stepparent or grandparent to gain legal rights. We will guide you through this process from start to finish, providing answers and information at each step.


The court properly denied the paternal grandmother’s petition for grandparent visitation, after the child’s father had been deported to Ecuador. The court properly considered the statutory factors in the grandparent visitation statute (750 ILCS 5/607(a-5)(3)), so that denial of her petition was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The grandmother showed her involvement in the child’s life, but other evidence showed her interference with the parental decision-making authority of the child’s mother by attempting to poison the child’s mind. The trial court noted that it had observed the grandmother during various court appearances and found her to be domineering and overbearing. In Anaya R., 2012 IL App (1st) 12110 (Aug 31, 2012) Cook Co, 6th Div.

Contact An Arlington Heights Third Party Lawyer

To arrange an initial consultation, please contact our Illinois law firm today at 847-222-9429.


By Buffalo Grove Law Offices | July 20, 2021 |

After minor’s mother died, maternal grandmother and father each filed their own petition for the minor’s custody. The child had lived with mother. Trial court initially ordered temporary custody to grandmother. It later awarded permanent custody to father (and substantial visitation to grandmother). Grandmother filed her petition for full custody of the minor.Father said that…

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By Buffalo Grove Law Offices | July 21, 2021 |

It requires the court to set the first hearing date for a petition for visitation within 45 days of the petition being filed. It requires that further hearing dates be set in court within 45 days of the prior hearing. It would allow the court to impose penalties and sanctions on any party that intentionally…

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By Buffalo Grove Law Offices | July 21, 2021 |

The maternal grandparents filed a petition. They wanted permanent and temporary grandparent visitation of their two minor grandchildren.  The mother of the children had been killed in a car accident.  Their father had been seriously injured. Father needed lengthy hospitalization and rehab. The children were 3 and 7 years old at the time of the…

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By Buffalo Grove Law Offices | July 21, 2021 |

The child’s mother died. The maternal grandmother wanted custody.  So did the child’s father. The child had not been living with either the mother or the father. That allows a third party to file for custody. A third party can’t ask for custody if the child is living with either parent. Such a third party…

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By Buffalo Grove Law Offices | July 21, 2021 |

The wife filed for divorce. They had an oral settlement agreement. The Judge granted the divorce. Wife appealed. The wife alleged that she was pushed into settlement by her attorney. She alleged that she had no choice. The Appellate Court said that was insufficient to invalidate the settlement agreement. A property settlement should not be…

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By Buffalo Grove Law Offices | July 22, 2021 |

Father’s mother petitioned the court for visitation. Father had been deported to Equador. The court denied visitation to the grandmother. She appealed. Grandmother showed her involvement in the child’s life.  But, evidence also showed her interference with the child’s mother. The mother is the child’s decision-making authority.  There was evidence that the grandmother attempted to…

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