What goes into determining the best interest of the child?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Sunday, November 16, 2014.

As our readers may know, child custody determinations are among the most important decisions that are made in divorce proceedings. Couples who cannot agree on a custody arrangement have to get a court involved, which will then bring up the issue of what arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

That term, best interests of the child, is the guiding factor for judges in making child custody determinations. But exactly how are these decisions made? What factors go into determining what is truly the best custody arrangement for the child? State statutes lay out the various factors judges are to take into consideration. Here in Illinois, state law provides a non-exclusive list of factors.

The factors laid out in Illinois’ law include: the mental and physical health of the parents, as well as any other individuals involved in the custody arrangement; the ability of the child to adjust to a new living arrangement and school; the wishes of both the parents and the child with regard to preferred living arrangements; the actual relationships between the child and the parents, as well as siblings and others who might be involved in the child’s life in any given living arrangement. The ability of each parent to cooperate in facilitating a good relationship between the child and the other parent is also relevant, since it is known that children do better when they are able to have an ongoing relationship with both parents after divorce.

Also important in the best interests determination is the occurrence or presence of abuse or physical violence in the home. If one of the parents is a convicted sex offender, this is also a factor potentially affecting the best interests of the child. In addition, there may be other factors that are relevant to the issue of best interests, and judges are able to take these into account as they see fit.

Special considerations can come up in cases involving a parent who serves in the military, and it is important for military parents to understand their rights when it comes to custody determinations as they are impacted by military service. Working with an experienced attorney is important to ensure one is not unfairly disadvantaged by military service.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, “Illinois Compiled Statues,” Accessed Nov. 14, 2014.

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