You Be the Judge: A Grandmother’s Rights

A woman argues that she had a right to see her grandson, but her daughter claims she tried to “take over” during visits. You be the judge.

By Robin Gerber
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine October 2007

grandmother holding grandchild's hand


The Verdict:

Grandparent visitation laws vary from state to state. Under Illinois law, a grandparent who wants to see her grandchild regularly must show that a parent’s actions and decisions to deny visits are harmful to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health.

The circuit court held that Cindy’s voluntary visits with Elias didn’t create any problems and that Alice had tried to let a “natural relationship develop.” It was only after Cory filed his petition for visitation rights with the family court that Alice stopped Cindy from visiting her grandson. According to the circuit court, this showed that Alice’s denial of visitation was “merely retaliatory and punitive and patently unreasonable.”

The court also found that all other grounds for denying visitation rights to Cindy were unreasonable. Alice said she found Cindy “very intimidating” and didn’t like to be around her. Alice and her mother testified that Cindy didn’t show respect for Alice as a parent, yet they had few specific examples that warranted Alice’s decision to keep Cindy away from her grandson.

In addition, Cindy convinced the court that Alice’s refusal to let her visit Elias was harmful to the child. The injury was “not something that you can put in the sense of a direct emotional harm,” the court said, but Elias would be hurt by never knowing a grandparent who loved him.

The court ruled that as long as Elias’s relationship with Cindy does not undermine his relationship with his mother, Cindy has a right to see her grandson. Alice appealed the ruling, but the higher court confirmed the decision. Cindy now visits with Elias once a month for three hours at a time, unsupervised.

Alice is appealing the decision to the state supreme court.

Was justice served? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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