In divorces that involve children, the parents’ paramount questions are often related to custody and include concerns such as how custody is determined or the various types of custody. One common issue that arises when determining the answers to these concerns involves how siblings affect the custody process in general. Siblings’ relationships with each other can often be very close, and the existence of these additional close relationships may complicate the custody process.
Generally, there are two major concerns related to siblings and custody. These include whether the court will keep the siblings together and whether siblings are allowed visitation rights to the other siblings. Unfortunately, neither question has a concrete answer. Family law is a discipline with many unique scenarios. However, there are legal guidelines within which courts will work.
Keeping Siblings Together
Many parents of siblings are often concerned about whether the court will break the siblings up during the custody decision, sending some to live with the mother and others to live with the father. To understand whether courts will do this, it is important to understand how child custody decisions are made. The law requires judges to look to the best interests of the child as the overarching guideline for making a custody decision. The law does include several factors, but it is largely a question of judicial discretion. However, one of the factors is how the custody decision will affect sibling relationships. Additionally, there have been cases where higher level courts have instructed judges to attempt to keep siblings together.
In the end, this means that courts tend to view keeping siblings together as a default position. They will try to preserve sibling relationships and former lifestyles to the extent that it is possible. But if other issues arise, such as one child needing special care or needing to live in a certain location, it is possible that judges will split siblings up.
Sibling Visitation Rights
Another issue that arises most frequently in cases of adult siblings is that of visitation rights. Many adult siblings want to maintain contact with their younger brothers and sisters, but one parent or the other will object. In these circumstances, Illinois law allows siblings to apply for visitation rights in much the same way that parents do, provided that several conditions are met. First, this law applies in the case of siblings whose parents are divorced. Second, at least one parent must consent to the sibling’s being allowed visitation rights. Third, the sibling’s visitation must not diminish the visitation rights of any parent to whom they are not related.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce and have questions about child custody or other aspects of the process, seek out an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney
today. Our skilled lawyers can answer your questions and help you move forward with the divorce process.