Child custody is often a stressful part of any divorce proceeding. After all, not only must you wrap up your marriage, but you also must address what happens to the kids. If you are splitting from your spouse in Illinois, you should probably familiarize yourself with some custody terms.
“Best interests of the child” is one phrase you are likely to encounter continuously. This expression represents the legal standard Illinois family law judges use when settling child custody disputes and other related matters. While judges have wide latitude in considering a variety of subjects, they typically weigh certain factors when determining the best interests of a child.
1. Wishes of the child
While not dispositive, the desires of the child are important in determining child custody. When evaluating a child’s opinion, a judge should consider the age and maturity level of the child. Of course, a parent’s violent behavior, criminal history or threats to the child may outweigh the young one’s wishes.
2. Wishes of each parent
An individual who does not want to take care of his or her children is not likely to be an effective parent. Therefore, judges often ask parents about their preferred custody outcome and parental wishes.
3. Home, school and community adjustment
Judges typically want to maintain continuity for children. Consequently, they usually consider a child’s home, school and community adjustment when awarding custody.
4. Parental cooperation
Cooperative parents are usually good for kids. As such, your family law judge may want to evaluate whether you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse get along. The judge is also likely to consider whether each parent is apt to foster a positive parent-child relationship involving the other parent.
5. Parental involvement
Parents make hundreds of childcare decisions every day. When determining the best interests of the child, a judge often wants to know about each parent’s past involvement in the decision-making process.
You, your spouse and the State of Illinois want what is best for your kids. While the above list does not include every factor a judge may consider when evaluating the best interests of children, it should give you a good idea of what to expect in your child custody case.