Throughout the divorce process, if you have children, you and your co-parent will need to devise a parenting plan that clearly defines the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time schedules, and other child-related issues. In the state of Illinois, the standard used to determine many of these concerns is referred to as “the best interests of the child.” When decisions are made regarding custody of children of divorcing or separating parents, their best interests have the greatest bearing on the end result. While Illinois has a strict set of guidelines elaborating on those “best interests,” these issues may be open to interpretation, especially since the circumstances surrounding each child custody case are unique. In some cases, determining how much of a say children should have regarding what is in their best interests can be difficult.
3 Ways to Accept Your Children’s Opinion of Their “Best Interests”
Although “the best interests of the child” are critical, parents may not take children’s desires into account when addressing these matters. Here are some ways to make sure you, your co-parent, your attorney, and the court maintain a clear understanding of your children’s best interests and how their wishes may affect your case:
Reject the idea that young children have no understanding of what is good for them. Many social scientists and other experts believe that the so-called “age of reason” for children is seven years old. By that age, they are able to make decisions and judgments based on their own ideas, observations, opinions, and insights. With this in mind, if your children are around that age or older, but they tend to shy away from the spotlight, consider enlisting the assistance of social workers or other similar professionals who can observe the child and interview them to understand exactly how they feel about everything, including the impending divorce itself....