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When spouses are in the process of a marriage dissolution, if there are children involved in the marital relationship, then child custody is one of the most important matters for consideration by the court. In all child custody determinations, the court uses the standard of the “child’s best interests” in making the final custody award. This standard requires a balancing of numerous factors, and is the prevailing method used in making custody arrangements, which will be most beneficial for the child’s well-being. The child’s wishes or preferences are one of the many factors the State of Illinois considers when determining how to proceed.
Weight of Your Child’s Wishes
It has long been debated whether a child should be able to choose the parent with whom they would like to live in a child custody battle. This begs the question of whether the child should in fact have that choice and, if so, at what age do they have the mental capacity to make a sound determination as to what is in their best interest in the matter of parental custody. Overall, it is an extremely rare occurrence that a judge would allow a child’s preference of where to live outweigh other factors when making a custodial determination.
As mentioned previously, in Illinois the child’s preference is just one of numerous factors considered in child custody cases, including which parent is more suitable based on stability or provision of the best home environment, the emotional stability of each parent, the level of education of each parent, the child rearing skills of the parents, the employment status and earnings of each parent, the motive of each parent seeking custody, if either parent is deemed unfit to have custody, the relationship between the child and the parent, if either parent will try to promote and allow the child have a meaningful relationship with the other parent, and others.
The weight that a judge may give the child’s preference is largely dependent on the age and maturity of the child and the child’s ability to rationalize his or her preference in light of the circumstances. The more mature the child, the more weight is placed on the child’s preference, especially when the preference is articulated in such a way that emphasizes and prioritizes the best social, emotional, health, and economic interests. Thus, preference of the child considers the child’s maturity and age, the reasons provided for the preference, the relationship between the child and the parent, and even the preference of other siblings, if applicable. In consideration of the preference of other siblings, it is generally accepted that siblings should be kept together, unless there are clear problems that may require separation.
Receive the Assistance of Experienced Custody AttorneysThe attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio understand that when children are involved in legal matters, things can get emotional and complicated. Our attorneys aim to resolve custody matters in a painless manner while protecting children from the sometimes harsh legal system. Contact one of our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys online today for your free initial consultation or give us a call at 630-920-8855.