St. Charles Family LawyerWhen parents are getting a divorce or separating, one of the most contentious issues is often who will have more parenting time to spend with the children. Few parents are willing to give up any amount of time they could spend with their child in a shared custody arrangement. While Illinois has largely dispensed with the term “primary custody,” it does often work out so that one parent’s home is the child’s primary residence, while the other parent enjoys shorter amounts of parenting time. Determining which parent will have the children most of the time can be difficult for many families. One option that many parents choose is to enlist the help of a mediator and work out an arrangement by mutual agreement. However, in cases where this is not possible or practical for any reason, it typically falls to the court to make that decision. While a child’s input on the matter is important, it is not generally the deciding factor. 

How a Child’s Wishes Factor into Parenting Time Decisions

Illinois state law governs that a court should take into consideration “the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to parenting time.” This means that the court will consider not only the preference expressed by the child, but also the child’s individual ability to make a mature and responsible decision. 

Young children in particular are often manipulated or bribed by one parent to tell the court that they want to remain with that parent. However, it is unwise to attempt to do this. In many cases, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to speak with the child individually to help determine what type of arrangement would be best for the child. Guardians ad litem are trained professionals who can often detect when a child is simply parroting what a parent told them to say. 

The expressed preference of an older child may be given more weight. However, courts are aware that teenagers will often prefer to live with the more permissive parent – the parent who lets them stay out late, drink beer, or do other things the more strict parent may not allow. However, this is not always in the child’s best interests. The court will consider what is in the best interests of the child, which may not be what the child wants. The child’s preferences are but one of numerous factors Illinois courts consider in parenting time disputes. 

Contact a Kane County Parenting Time Lawyer

[[title]] is experienced in helping Illinois parents involved in a parenting time dispute, incident to divorce or otherwise. Our caring St. Charles parenting time attorneys want to help you do what is best for your child. For a complimentary consultation, please contact us at [[phone]].