Paternal grandparents' petition for visitation during mother's time denied by appellate court

Ann Knef Feb. 7, 2008, 3:12am


The Fifth Appellate Court upheld Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey's order denying a visitation request of paternal grandparents Cynthia and Roger Pfalzgraf during the custodial mother's "time."

"We cannot read words into a statute that are not there," cited Appellate Court Justice James Wexstten who authored the opinion.

The Pfalzgrafs appealed Bailey's April 2007 order arguing that a section of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Act) was enacted to "prevent a court from reducing the time that a noncustodial parent will have with his or her child" and should be interpreted accordingly.

Michael Pfalzgraf and Deann McCann are the divorced parents of a minor girl. McCann, the custodial parent, did not want the paternal grandparents' visitation time to diminish her custody time.

On Feb. 27, 2007, the Pfalzgrafs petitioned for "extensive" visitation with their granddaughter pursuant to section 607 of the Act.

The Act provides that, "The visitation of the grandparent...must not
diminish the visitation of the parent who is not related to the grandparent...seeking visitation..."

While all parties agreed they should have visitation, they disagreed with regard to when that visitation should occur.

Bailey ordered that the grandparents should be allowed visitation
but that it should take place during their son's visitation and not diminish McCann's time with her daughter.

Wexstten wrote that given the Act's "plain and ordinary meaning, the
directive only precludes a court from granting grandparent visitation that diminishes the unrelated parent's visitation time."

Justices Richard Goldenhersh and James Donovan concurred.

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