Disputes about child custody (known in Illinois as “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time”) are unpleasant affairs, whether they occur during a divorce or afterward when parents are trying to rewrite their parenting plan. Although parents are encouraged to come up with a parenting plan on their own, this is not always possible. Personal conflict and disagreements about essential values can make it very difficult to reach an agreement.
When this happens, a judge may become more involved in making decisions about child custody that can seem arbitrary or confusing to the parents. The judge is charged with finding the best interests of the child and then creating a parenting plan that reflects those interests. However, to the parent in the case, the decisions of the judge and his or her reasoning may not be clear. In this blog, we will discuss the factors an Illinois judge is required to consider when determining the best interests of the child.
Determining a Child’s Best Interests in Illinois Custody Cases
There are many different factors that a court takes into consideration when making decisions about a child’s best interests. Not every factor is relevant for every situation, but in general, these are the factors that can apply:
- The opinion of each parent and their reasoning
- If age-appropriate, the opinion of the child
- The child’s relationship with their siblings and each parent
- The current parenting arrangement and how well-adjusted the child is to that arrangement, including the child’s school, neighborhood, and community
- The potential implications of changing the arrangement on the child and her relationship with other family members
- The child’s physical, emotional, social, and educational needs
- How well the parents get along and whether any proposed arrangement would expose the child to unnecessary or traumatizing conflict between the parents
- Any history of abuse or neglect from either parent
- How far apart the parents live from each other
- The physical, emotional, and mental health of each parent
Based on a combination of these factors, plus any recommendations from outside professionals like a guardian ad litem or custody evaluator, a judge will make a decision.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Child Custody Lawyer
Going through a custody dispute can be a very difficult and frustrating experience. At Goostree Law Group, we understand that you may be unsure of how decisions are made by the court and we will be here to not only advocate for you but to make sure you understand how the process works every step of the way. Call us now at 630-364-4046 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our DuPage County child custody attorneys.