A major concern within divorce cases that involve families with children is that divorce is widely known to have a significant impact on children, an impact that is rarely a positive one. As a result, issues related to child custody are navigated with the utmost seriousness, as many decisions made regarding child custody will, in all likelihood, play a major role in the development of the children involved. Many questions need to be answered when deciding which parent a child will live with once the divorce has been finalized.
In Illinois, a court will determine the child’s “best interests.” Many factors go into making this decision, like the wishes of the parents, the needs and desires of the child, the physical and mental health of all the parties involved, and more. However, it is critical to state that just because a judge may listen to the wishes of the child does not mean the judge is obligated to fulfill the child’s preferences. In this blog, we will look at how a child’s wishes may or may not influence parenting time allocation and parental responsibilities in divorce and child custody cases.
So, Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?
The short answer is no; a child cannot simply choose which parent they will live with. The court understands that just because a child wants to live with a particular parent does not automatically mean that the child’s wishes are in their own best interests. For instance, a child may be influenced to choose a parent who has promised them gifts or something of that nature. While the parent may be a great gift giver, this does not mean that living with that parent is in the child’s best interest.
Accordingly, an Illinois court will value certain factors more than others in particular situations. For example, if the child is 14 years of age and is adamant about wanting to live with one parent over the other, a judge may weigh the input of that teenage child over the input of a child who is seven years old. So, while a child cannot outright choose who they live with, in certain circumstances, the child’s wishes may have more weight than in other circumstances. There is no magical age where a child can have the final say in which parent they live with until they reach the age of legal adulthood.
Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Attorney
If you are going through a divorce and have questions pertaining to divorce and child custody, do not hesitate to contact the astute Wheaton child custody lawyers with The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C.. Call 630-462-9500 for a private consultation.