Pub. Act 100-0706 (effective Jan. 1, 2019) (amending 750 ILCS 5/602.9)

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was modified to require that grandparents and great-grandparents seeking visitation rights for a grandchild with unmarried parents need only legally establish the parent-child relationship for the parent to whom they are related. The new requirement applies when a grandparent, great-grandparent, step-parent, or sibling of a child seeks visitation rights of such child born to unmarried parents not living together. Step-parents now only need to establish the parent-child relationship between the child and the parent they are married to or were married to before their partner’s death. Prior to this amendment, such persons were instead required to establish the parentage of the child in a “court of competent jurisdiction.”

Grandparents and nonparents can petition the court under this act if they are unreasonably denied visitation to the child, which causes “undue mental, physical, or emotional harm to the child.” Other grounds for petitioning for visitation rights under the act include a parent’s death, loss of capacity, incarceration, or divorce. In considering nonparent petitions, the court is advised to consider additional factors beyond the standard factors, such as the child’s wishes, good faith, etc. This includes: whether the child resided with the nonparent for six consecutive months; whether the child had frequent and regular contact with the nonparent; and whether the nonparent was the primary caregiver for at least six consecutive months within the past two years.

From: Illinois Bar Journal, October 2018