How Are Children’s “Best Interests” Determined in a Family Law Case?

Posted on in Child Custody
DuPage County divorce lawyer for allocation of parental responsibilitiesIn Illinois, child custody is referred to as the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” and divorce and family law cases will focus on the “best interests” of the child when determining how parents will share decision-making responsibility for their children. There are a variety of factors considered when making these important decisions, and they will often be dependent upon the particular dynamics between the child and the parents, making the final decisions quite subjective. Because of this, it can be difficult to predict exactly what will go into making a ruling. However, there are some specific elements of the best interests of the child that judges will consider thoroughly in these cases.

The Definition of “Best Interests”

In many cases, parents will focus on the more tangible best interests of a child simply because they are so much more apparent. These physical best interests include children’s general needs, such as:

  • Food

  • Water

  • Shelter

  • Clothing

  • Safety

  • Health

  • Education

  • Financial Security

While a parent may be able to provide all of these needs, there are other, subtler best interests that also must be considered. These include the child’s psychological, emotional, and social needs, which may include:

  • Stability—The child’s world should not feel chaotic and thrown into upheaval by the parents’ separation; it should as close to “business as usual” as possible, and the child’s routines should not be affected too much by their new situation.

  • Protection—Your son/daughter must feel safe from harm, both physically and psychologically.

  • Independence—The new situation should not stunt the child’s growth as an individual.

  • Honesty—Both the parents and their children must be honest with one another to assist with stability and a strong family life.

  • Sense of Belonging—Your son or daughter should not feel alone; he/she needs proper socialization as well as nurturing familial roots.

  • Meaningful, Loving Parental Relationships—The child should feel well taken care of.

How Child Custody Is Determined in Illinois

Of course, all of the aforementioned factors are not always given mandatory and equal consideration in court. According to legal guidelines in Illinois, the judge will take the following into consideration when making determinations about the allocation of parental responsibilities:

  • The parent’s wishes

  • The child’s wishes (if old enough to make an independent decision)

  • Prior agreements about parenting

  • The status of the relationship between the child, the parents, and any other relevant relatives

  • The child’s adjustment to his/her living situation

  • The mental and physical health of all concerned parties

  • The child’s needs

  • Distance between parents, difficulty in transportation or coordinating visits, etc.

  • Any need for restrictions on a parent’s decision-making authority

  • Any threat of future violence or history of past abuse by either parent

  • The willingness/ability of each parent to put the child’s needs first

  • The willingness/ability of each parent to cooperate with the other parent in order to maintain a consistent and continuous relationship between both parents and the child

  • Whether either parent or another person in either parent’s home is a sex offender

  • Terms of military family-care plans

  • Any other factors the court finds to be relevant

Contact a Wheaton Child Custody Lawyer

The allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois divorce and family law cases is a complex issue that requires an attentive and experienced attorney who can help you demonstrate that you can provide for the best interests of your child. With the assistance of a DuPage County family law attorney, you will be able to fight to achieve a successful outcome for your family. Call the Andrew Cores Family Law Group today at 630-871-1002 for your complimentary consultation.


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