Divorce is difficult enough when there is one child. When two or more children are involved, the concerns about the effect of divorce on the children become magnified. Oftentimes, siblings may feel a stronger bond to different parents: while one child may feel an especially strong attachment to his mother, the sibling may feel a particularly close bond with her father. When a court is called upon to make a child custody determination, how does a court treat siblings if factors pull the court in conflicting directions?
A Refresher on Child Custody Determinations
As many are already familiar, a child custody determination as part of a separate suit or a divorce action will be made after the court considers the best interest of the child or children involved. In determining the best interest of the child in any given case, courts are free to consider a number of factors about the parents’ work and home life as well as the desires of the children (if the children are of a certain age and maturity level). None of the factors a court is to consider (as set out in the statutes) are determinative; instead the court is to take a “whole picture” view of the situation and circumstances.
Do Courts Ever Split Siblings?
So would a court ever consider splitting siblings by ordering that some siblings go with one parent and sending the other siblings with the other parent? A court could, but it is not likely to do so. Here are just a couple of the reasons why:
- If a court is considering splitting the siblings because some of the siblings are in danger of abuse or mistreatment, it is likely that the other siblings are also in danger of the same type of abuse and mistreatment. When given the opportunity to be proactive, a court is unlikely to wait until a child is actually abused before a court will take action; and
- Siblings who have grown up together tend to react negatively to being separated. In an effort to minimize the trauma a child may already experience because of a divorce, a court will likely be reluctant to separate siblings from one another.
Note that a court will not split siblings simply because the parents recommend such a move or the children themselves request to be split. A court is tasked with making its own determination as to the children’s best interests; therefore, the wishes of the parents and children is one, but not the only, factor the court will consider.
How to Get the Court to Listen to Your Recommendations Regarding Custody
Pleading with the judge on your own is not a good strategy if you are attempting to have a court follow your personal recommendations regarding child custody. Instead, it is better to have an experienced DuPage County child custody lawyer available to present your request and show how your request meets the various factors the court is to consider. Contact us at 630-871-1002 and let us show you how we can persuasively present your child custody request to the court.