In the event of a divorce, separation, or other extenuating circumstances that involve a child, with whom the child will reside is often a pressing question. And while each of the child’s parents has the right to petition for custody and visitation, in some cases, neither parent is fit. As such, the question remains: who else can seek – and be granted – the custody of a child in Downers Grove, Illinois and surrounding areas? What about visitation rights? To help you answer this question, be sure to consult with a child custody lawyer before taking legal action on your own.
A Look Into Child Custody
If either parent is available and physically, mentally, and psychologically fit to have custody of the child in question, then a person other than a parent cannot be granted custody of the child. In the event that the court deems the parents to be unfit, the parents of the child cannot be found, or the parents are residing in jail (or a combination of the above), a grandparent can petition for, and may be granted, custody. However, because granting custody to an individual is a permanent decision, custody is unlikely to be given to a grandparent except for in extenuating circumstances, such as a child’s parents’ death. Guardianship, on the other hand, is more common.
According to 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 601, a stepparent may be granted custody of a child if the child is at least 12 years old, the custodial parent and stepparent were married for at least five years (with the child residing with both during this time frame), the custodial parent has died or is incapacitated, the stepparent provided for the child prior to the separation, it is within the best interests of the child, and the child wants to reside with the stepparent.
The Right to Seek Visitation
However, while recovering custody of a child can be difficult if you are not the child’s biological parent, you have the right to seek visitation rights with the child in the event that:
- The child’s parent is deceased or missing;
- The child’s parent is mentally unfit;
- There is a divorce/dissolution process between the child’s parents’ pending;
- The child is born out of wedlock and the parents are not living together; or
- The child’s parents have sought a divorce or separation; and
- You are the child’s grandparent, great grandparent, or sibling and the child is a minor.
How Is Child Custody Determined?
In Downers Grove and throughout Illinois, child custody is determined via the consideration of a number of important and relevant factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- The best interests of the child;
- The wishes of the child;
- The relationship that the child has with each of his or her parents;
- The child’s home, school, and community; and
- Any physical violence or threat of physical violence that the child may experience in living with the party seeking custody.
I Need Help Seeking Custody of a Child in Illinois
If you are in need of legal counsel in seeking custody of a child, a determined Downers Grove child custody attorney can advocate for you. To schedule your consultation with the attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. today, call us now at 630-961-0060.