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How Do Illinois Courts Decide Child Custody Cases?

Posted on in Child Custody

St. Charles child custody lawyerWhether you are divorced or you never married your child’s other parent, child custody issues can be contentious. Understandably, parents have strong opinions about what is best for their kids. When divorced or unmarried parents disagree about the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time, the court may intervene. If you are in the midst of a child custody dispute, it is important to understand the factors used by Illinois courts when ruling on these types of cases.

The Child’s Best Interests

The primary concern in a child custody dispute is reaching a resolution that promotes the child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. In other words, the court’s priority during a child custody case is the child’s best interests. Of course, what is in a child’s best interests is not always easy to ascertain. Illinois has adopted over a dozen individual factors that courts should consider when determining a child custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. These so-called “best interest factors” include:

  • Each parent’s custody preferences

  • Each parent’s physical health and mental well-being

  • The child’s relationships with his or her parents, siblings, grandparents, and other relevant individuals

  • The child’s preferences, if he or she is mature enough to express these preferences

  • The child’s needs

  • The amount of time each parent has spent caring for the child in the last two years

  • Previous child custody agreements

  • The child’s familiarity and comfort with his or her home environment, school, and community

  • The distance between the parents’ homes and any transportation concerns

  • The parents’ ability to cooperate together as co-parents

  • The parents’ willingness and ability to foster a positive relationship between the other parent and the child

  • Past instances of child abuse or neglect

  • Whether a parent is a sex offender or is living with a sex offender

  • Whether there are grounds to restrict a parent’s parenting time

Child Custody Disputes in Illinois

When deciding what is best for children, the court will consider each of the best interest factors as well as the arguments and evidence presented during the case.  In some situations, a guardian ad litem is assigned to the case. This person investigates the parents’ respective homes, interviews the parents, child, and other family members, reviews medical records and police reports, and uses this information to reach an opinion. The guardian ad litem then shares his or her opinion with the court.

Contact a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer

At Emily Rapp at McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C., we understand how complex and emotionally volatile child custody disputes can be. Our St. Charles family law attorneys can help you understand your legal options and seek a child custody arrangement that is best for your child. Call us at 630-402-0185 for a free consultation.



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