New law protects adult children’s visitation rights with elderly parents

Sandy Baksys of Springfield hadn’t seen her elderly father since December of 2016 when she took the matter to Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) for help.

Baksys says she was being prevented from seeing her father by his caretaker, another family member who refuses to allow her to visit. 
In January, Jimenez filed legislation which would allow families to go to court to get visitation rights. The legislation, House Bill 4309, created the Frail Individual Family Visitation Protection Act, also known as the Kasem-Baksys Act. Under the legislation, a family member can petition a court for the right to visit a frail individual, arguing that the visit is in the best interests of the individual. If the court agrees, it can order the caregiver to permit the visitation.

“I’m grateful to Sandy Baksys who shared her personal story and made this new protection possible to help families across Illinois,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez’s legislation quickly attracted bipartisan co-sponsors and cleared the House Judiciary-Civil Committee in March after Baksys testified on its behalf. The bill passed the full House in May by a vote of 102-0. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and it again passed unanimously, garnering a 56-0 vote on final passage. It was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner in August.

The law lays out the process for petitioning the court and for how the hearing will be conducted. It goes on to specify that if visitation rights are granted by the court, the court may further order the caregiver to communicate important information with the family member who made the petition. This information includes matters such as notice in the event that the frail individual is hospitalized or admitted to another health care facility, as well as if the person moves or passes away.

A court could also deny the petition if visitation is against the frail individual’s wishes or if the court determines such a visit is not in that person’s best interests.

“This new law will create a potential pathway for family members to secure visits in cases where they are being unreasonably blocked from seeing Mom or Dad by another close relative,” Jimenez said when the bill was signed.

“This change will not create any new rights under Illinois law,” Baksys said. “But it will close a major loophole that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a loving daughter like me to challenge a family caregiver who is unreasonably denying visitation through our elder’s entire end-of-life.”

The legislation is one of more than 200 new Illinois laws which will take effect on January 1.

“I’m thankful for the work of Representative Jimenez and everyone who made it possible,” Baksys said.