The role of a grandparent is usually a pleasant and supportive one. You get to spend quality time with the children of your children, augment their lifestyle and help raise the next generation of your family. Unfortunately, grandparents are often in a precarious position, dependent on the cooperation of the parents of their grandchildren.
Few things are more effective at undermining the relationship with your grandchildren than your child divorcing the other parent. Your former in-law may resent your relationship with the children and refuse to let you spend time with the kids. That can be particularly problematic if your child doesn’t receive shared custody.
Does that mean you have to wait until your grandchildren become adults to resume your relationship with them?
Illinois family law recognizes the importance of extended family
In some states, only parents have visitation and custody rights regarding minor children. However, the law in Illinois reflects how important other family members can be to children. The state allows non-parents to request visitation time formally through the courts.
If your child loses custody or has limited access to the children, you may need to ask for formal visitation rights so that your child’s ex-spouse can’t prevent you from spending time with your grandchildren.
A visitation order could give you the right to see them as frequently as your relationship justifies. The more involved you have been with the children, the easier it will be to show the courts that plenty of visitation time with you would be in their best interests.
Going to court can cause short-term conflict for long-term gains
Some grandparents are reticent to assert their visitation rights because they worry that involving the courts could further alienate them from their former in-law. In reality, if the other parent of your grandchildren has already decided to cut you out of their lives, hoping that they will change their mind just leaves you without any say.
While they may resent needing to go to court and the forced sharing of visitation with you at first, eventually they may grow to respect the degree of devotion you have for their children. Few things win a parent over faster than the realization that someone has a deep and abiding commitment to their children.
Asserting your rights to grandparent visitation will benefit the kids and you, as well as the parent who may not currently give you access to the children.