Does My Child Have a Voice in Court?

It is not uncommon in an Illinois divorce for one parent to feel their child’s or children’s wishes and desires are not being considered. “Will a judge consider which parent the child wants to live with?” “What if my child does not like the visitation schedule the court sets up because it interferes with her sports schedule?” These and other common questions reveal a common fear: the children of a divorcing couple may not have a voice in the decisions the parents and courts make.

A Child’s Voice in Court

Courts in Illinois tend to presume that a child’s desires and wishes are adequately presented through the parents and other evidence (sometimes through the testimony of the child him- or herself). But for a child who is unable to express him- or herself in court or to the judge, a court may allow an attorney for the child, a guardian ad litem, or a child representative to represent the child:

  • An attorney for the child is an advocate for the child much like the parents’ attorneys act as advocates during the divorce. The attorney for the child is a trained attorney and usually possesses several years of family law experience. The attorney for the child presents the child’s wishes and desires to the court, assuming that the child is capable of expressing his or her preferences.
  • A guardian ad litem is also an attorney who advocates on behalf of the child. However, unlike an attorney for the child, a guardian ad litem is instructed to advocate for the “best interests of the court.” This may not necessarily be what the child wishes. In fact, a guardian ad litem does not even need to consider the child’s wishes at all in some situations.
  • A child representative can make recommendations that are in the best interests of the court (like a guardian ad litem), but must also consider the child’s wishes and desires (like an attorney for the child).

Contact a Wheaton-Area Family Law Attorney

When it comes to your children and their desires, it is important to discuss your concerns with the team of lawyers at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C., P.C. There are several ways by which your child’s wishes and thoughts can be presented to the court even without the additional expense of having a dedicated representative for your child. Discussing your concerns with us can also help protect your child from the potentially harmful effects of divorce on your child, and may help ease the process for everyone. Contact the Wheaton family law attorneys of Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. at (630) 756-5112 today. We can help make sure your children have a voice in court.