Determining the Best Interests of the Child

When divorcing parents cannot work out a child custody agreement between themselves, the court will determine where the child or children should live. The judge can decide to award sole physical and legal custody to one parent or split the responsibilities with joint custody. Physical custody refers to the right of the child to live with a parent, and legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make legal decisions regarding the child. When making a decision regarding child custody, the judge looks at what is in the best interests of the children involved.

Illinois Child Custody Law

In Illinois, the courts begin with the presumption that having both parents involved in the child’s upbringing is the best interest. In addition, the court also presumes that both parents will cooperate in the child’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. These presumptions typically lend themselves to an award of joint custody between parents in Illinois. However, these assumptions can be rebutted by either parent in court by showing evidence to the contrary.

The judge uses a variety of factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child for the purposes of child custody. Under Section 602 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the state has listed multiple relevant considerations that the judge must take into account when deciding custody. These considerations include:

  • Each parent’s desires for the child’s custody;
  • The child’s wishes;
  • The child’s connection with the parents;
  • The child’s connection with brothers or sisters;
  • The child’s life at school and within the community;
  • The child’s home life;
  • The health of the parents and the children;
  • Whether domestic violence has occurred within the home;
  • Whether the child is at risk of physical harm; and
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to nurture a connection between the child and the other parent.

It is important to remember that this list is not exhaustive. The judge is also allowed to consider any other factors the court deems relevant when determining the custody of the child, and the ultimate decision is up to his or her discretion.

Additional Important Factors

When determining what is in the best interests of the child in custody cases, the judge does not take into consideration any conduct by a parent that does not affect the child’s best interests. For example, the judge will not take into account any adulterous activity perpetrated by either parent.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney Today

If you or someone that you know has questions regarding child custody considerations or other issues of family law in the Kane, DuPage, or Will County area, let the DuPage County family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. help. Call or contact the office today for a confidential consultation of your case.