In the midst of a divorce or separation, establishing the best possible living and custodial arrangements for your children is of utmost importance.
In Illinois, the courts take various factors into consideration to determine the best interests of the child. Understanding these factors can help you as you navigate through this challenging process.
1. Parental fitness
The court examines the mental and physical health of each parent. This evaluation includes a parent’s capacity to provide for the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs. Any history of abuse or neglect also comes into the equation.
2. Stability and continuity
The court favors maintaining stability and continuity in the child’s life. This can mean that the parent who has been the primary caregiver may have an advantage. Also, if it is possible to keep the child in the same school or community, the court may lean in that direction.
3. Child’s preference
If the child is old enough and mature enough, the court may take the child’s preference into account. The court will evaluate whether the child’s preference is in their own best interest.
4. Willingness to co-parent
The court considers each parent’s willingness to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent. You need to show that you respect the child’s need for a relationship with the other parent and that you will not interfere with that relationship.
5. Cooperation with the court
Your compliance with court orders and willingness to work with the court can also affect the outcome. If you fail to follow court instructions or show disrespect to the court, this could negatively impact your case.
The overriding principle in all child custody decisions is the best interests of the child. The court weighs many factors to reach a decision that ensures the child’s safety, happiness, mental health and well-being.