Court’s Considerations in Child Custody Cases
Child custody and support cases are often decided in conjunction with a divorce case. Others are heard on their own, either because the parents never married, or because the issue of custody was not originally addressed when the couple divorced. Regardless of the circumstances of how the case came to be in the court, all child custody cases involve the same rules of law.
First Things First
In order to hear a child custody case, the court must have jurisdiction to do so. This means that the court must be legally allowed to make decisions pertaining to the parties involved in a case. This may be an issue particularly for parents who live in different states. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) puts forth the rules to follow on this issue. In the state of Illinois, a court can hear a child custody case if:
- The child has resided in the state for at least the last six months, or since birth if the child is less than six months old;
- The child has lived in the state in the last six months, even if he or she lives out of state currently, and one of the parents still resides in the state; or
- No other state can be claimed as the child’s home state, and either the child and one parent has significant connections with Illinois, or substantial evidence exists in Illinois that would be relevant to the custody proceeding.
Factors to Consider
Once it is determined that a court in Illinois has jurisdiction to hear a custody case, they will determine custody, support, and visitation according to what is in the best interests of the child. The test is very subjective, and purposefully so, in order to allow the court to make their decision on a case-by-case basis. In considering what is in a child’s best interest, the court will consider various factors, including:
- The wishes of the parents;
- The wishes of the child, when appropriate;
- The relationship and interactions the child has with each parent, any siblings, and any other party who may affect the child’s best interest;
- The child’s adjustment and attachment to their home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved in the proceeding;
- any physical violence or threat of physical violence by a party seeking custody, directed toward the child or another person;
- Any ongoing incidents of domestic violence;
- The willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a relationship with each other and the child.
Family Law Attorneys
While these factors are not an exclusive or exhaustive list of the court’s considerations, they are a good general starting point to the determining factors of a custody case. In order to get a better and more specific idea of what you can expect from the court in light of the facts of your case, it is advisable to consult directly with an attorney experienced in child custody and support matters. Contact the lawyers at the Davi Law Group, LLC to schedule a consultation today. We serve clients in Chicago, Wheaton, and Warrenville, Illinois.