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Understanding the Best Interests of the Child Factors in Depth

Posted on in Divorce

child of divorce, best interests of the child, Illinois child custody lawyer, child custody, DuPage County IllinoisThere are few challenges in life more difficult than divorce. It is certainly a hassle to gain a legal end to your marriage and determine how to divide important family assets, such as the family home. Often the biggest challenge in a divorce though is figuring out the custody arrangements of children. Such a process can be fraught with complications and emotions.

The Standard in Illinois According to Illinois law, when determining the custody of a child during a divorce proceeding, Illinois courts use a “best interests of the child” standard. This requires courts to try to determine the child’s best interests (as opposed to the interests of parents or family members) when determining which party will have custody over the child. Judges will follow this standard regardless of any agreement you and your divorcing spouse may have reached. Determining the Best Interests of the Child To figure out what the best interests of the child are, courts will look at a number of factors. No factor will carry more or less weight than another factor. Some of these factors include:
  • Who is the Primary Caregiver? - The court will look to see who is the primary caregiver of the child. This is the person who provides the child with food, takes them to school, purchases their clothes, and performs other necessary duties.

  • What is the Fitness of Parties Involved?  - The court will examine the physical and psychological well being of the parties seeking custody. In addition, courts will look at others associated with the parties, such as a party’s spouse or other children residing with that party. The courts will also consider evidence of abuse by a party against that party’s spouse or other children.

  • Who Will Be Able to Best Maintain Relationships with Family? - The court will attempt to determine which party can best keep the child’s family most intact.

  • Who Would the Child Prefer to Live With? - Illinois courts will consider any preference on the part of the child to live with a particular parent, provided that the child possesses the requisite amount of maturity. It is rare for an Illinois court to hear a child under the age of seven. The court has permission to speak with the child without the parents present, and may appoint a special attorney to represent the interests of the child when parents dispute the custody.

  • What are the Needs of the Child? - The court will consider the needs of the child, taking into account the child’s physical health, mental health, age, gender, or the like.

  • Who Will Provide the Best Residence? - The court will consider the location of potential living places of the child, including how close each residence is to extended family, friends, and the child’s school. The court will also consider the ease with which the other parent will be able to visit the child at a particular residence.

  • How Long Have the Parents Been Separated? - The court will consider the length of separation between divorcing spouses, as well as any history of previous abandonment.

  • What Are the Religious Views of Parties Involved? - If it will affect the physical or emotional well-being of the child, the court will consider religious views and other beliefs of the child and parents.

Illinois Attorneys With Expertise to Help Final child custody determinations often hinge on the arguments brought forward by each side. That is one of many reasons why it is critical to secure experienced representation when working through a divorce, particularly if custody will be contested. For help in Warrenville, Wheaton, and elsewhere in the state, contact the family law attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC today.
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