Chicago-area residents may be interested in a family law case in which a grandmother is seeking custody of her deceased daughter’s children. In March, police found the mother of the two children shot to death in her Chicago Heights home. The 7-year-old son was apparently asleep when his mother was killed, while the 18-month-old son was playing in his playpen.
The mother’s boyfriend — the father of the children — was questioned and released, but he was later arrested and charged with six counts of first-degree murder after forensic evidence was analyzed.
According to friends, the mother had been planning to move back home with her children after suffering many years of psychological abuse. The court records show that, on the day the death occurred, neighbors heard the parents arguing and then a gunshot. The boyfriend has since been released on a $200,000 bond.
The maternal grandmother, who before the murder interacted daily with her grandsons, wants custody of the two boys. They were not present at their mother’s funeral, and they have since been split up by the father. The older boy is in California with the father’s family, while the younger boy is with the paternal grandmother, who lives in Oak Forest.
Due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Illinois laws regarding grandparents’ rights, grandparents are significantly limited in seeking child custody and visitation. That is, unless a grandparent can prove that his or her custody of a child is in the child’s best interest.
As for this particular case, because the father surrendered the children to someone other than the Department of Family and Children Services, the grandmother must prove that the father’s decision to deny her visitation is harmful to the children’s mental and emotional health. Illinois residents with similar concerns would do well to seek advice from a family law attorney with experience in these matters.
Source: Chicago Heights Patch, “Mother Seeks Custody of Slain Daughter’s Sons,” Lorraine Swanson, Sept. 20, 2012