Document Type


Publication Title

Kane County Bar Association Bar Briefs


In 2002 in Wickham v. Byrne, the Illinois Supreme Court recognized that in "most cases, the relationship between a child and . . . grandparents is a nurturing, loving relationship that provides a vital connection to the family's history and roots." Yet, it also said that given the "fit parent's constitutionally protected liberty interest to direct the care, custody, and control of his or her children . . . parents - not judges -should . . . decide . . . with whom their children will associate." Thus, the "human conflict" between parents and grandparents was found to have "no place in the courtroom." The court declared the grandparent visitation statute to be "facially unconstitutional."

We argue that there needs to be some place in the courtroom, more than now allowed, for "human conflict" over grandparent childcare. Such childcare includes custody, visitation (traditional and virtual, as via FaceTime or Skype), and, yes, financial support. Notwithstanding a "fit parent's constitutionally protected liberty interest," the U.S. Supreme Court in a plurality opinion, in Troxel v. Granville in 2000, recognized, contrary to the Wickham declaration, that the "presumption that parents act in their children's best interests" does not totally prevent courts "from second-guessing parents' visitation decisions." At the least, second-guessing is permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent harm to grandchildren. Post-Wickham cases in Illinois also hold, and should continue to hold, that second-guessing is permitted in some instances where fit parents earlier agreed (as in consent decrees), but now object, to grandparent childcare. Illinois legislators should expand grandparent childcare opportunities, especially important today as the opioid, other drug-related, and non-drug crises disable many parents from providing adequate childcare.

Publication Date



College of Law

Suggested Citation

Jeffrey A. Parness & Deven Tlanda, Grandparent Childcare in Illinois, Kane Cnty. Bar Ass'n Bar Briefs (Feb. 2019).

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