What Actually is in The Best Interests of A Child?

In Illinois, like in other states, child custody disputes are resolved by a judge making a determination as to what is in the best interests of a child. This determination can be extremely difficult to make. After all, every child is different, every parent is different, and every situation that a child and his or her parents find themselves in is different. Therefore, it is often a matter of a court doing the best that it can given the situation with which it is dealing. However, there are certain specific factors courts can consider, and there is even science on the subject as well.

How Do Courts Decide What is in the Best Interests of a Child?

Courts are supposed to make custody determinations based on the best interests of a child. So how do they make those determinations? They are supposed to consider all relevant circumstances; however, Illinois law specifies a few particular circumstances to be considered. These include the following:

  • What a child’s parent or parents want when it comes to custody;
  • A child’s wishes when it comes to custody;
  • The interactions and relationships between a child, his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other relevant people;
  • A child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • The health, both mental and physical, of every person involved;
  • Any violence committed by or threatened by a potential custodian;
  • Any ongoing or repeated abuse;
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster a child’s relationship with the other parent;
  • Whether either parent is a sex offender; and
  • The terms of any relevant military family-care plan in the case of parental deployment.

Study Finds that Some Custody Arrangements are More Stressful for Children than Others

Time reports that one study has found that certain custody arrangements are more stressful for children than others. The results may be surprising. The conventional wisdom amongst many people is that children are better off with one primary home because this arrangement allows for stability and structure in the child’s life. However, this new study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found the exact opposite of what that conventional wisdom would predict. Researchers looked at sixth graders and ninth graders and studied their psychosomatic health problems in order to determine their stress levels. They found that children who spent time living with both of their separated parents had significantly fewer stress-related health problems than those who only lived with one parent.

Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.

Child custody cases carry some of the highest stakes of all the different types of court cases. While most other areas of law deal with financial disputes, these cases deal with the very difficult process of determining how a family will spend its time together, and how much time together it even has. When you are in a child custody dispute with these stakes, you need an experienced Illinois family law attorney who is able to fight for your rights. Contact the attorneys at Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. today at 630-665-7676. We are ready to help you.