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No two families in Illinois or elsewhere are remotely the same. Every family unit is molded by singular circumstances that make it unique.

Some families are wonderfully resilient amidst various types of challenges. They weather proverbial storms that yield deeply damaging effects for other families.

Increasingly, though, one nemesis at work across the United States is proving to be fundamentally dislocating for virtually every family visited by it. That is drug addiction affecting one or both parents.

A recent national article spotlights that scourge and precisely identifies it. It underscores “a grim picture of opioids’ reverberating effects on families affected by the public health crisis.”

How serious is the problem?

Both anecdotal and – more importantly – a growing swath of empirical evidence reveal that opioid addiction has taken on an unprecedented dimension as a disrupter of family continuity and harmony.

One factor that stands out is the growing rate of grandparents who have become primary caregivers in splintered families. In some cases, grandparents simply move in with their grandchildren in informal fashion, or the grandkids relocate to live with grandpa and grandma. In other cases, grandparents feel compelled to take legal action aimed at securing custody of their grandchildren.

That latter scenario can be volatile and complicated, as we noted in a relatively recent blog post at the Law Office of Jamie Mitchell. We stressed in our January 9 entry that no single legal standard applicable to grandparents’ visitation rights exists in the United States. Moreover, states (including Illinois) routinely erect high barriers for grandparents seeking custody of their adult children’s children.

In Illinois, a state judge will exercise broad discretion concerning any matter relevant to grandparents’ visitation or custody rights. A proven family law attorney well versed in child-centric concerns can provide further information.