If you are divorcing in the State of Illinois and are in agreement with your divorcing spouse regarding child custody arrangements, you can decide on any kind of child custody arrangement that you would like as long as it is in the best interests of the child. If, however, you and your spouse cannot find common ground on this important decision, the judge will intervene on your behalf. While the court’s decision is always based on what it considers to be in the children’s best interests, it takes a variety of factors into consideration in the process. If you have child custody concerns, consult with an experienced Joliet family law attorney today.
In determining those custody arrangements that are in a child’s best interests, the court can take many factors into consideration, including:
In Illinois, the court will take a child’s custodial preference into consideration, but it is not likely to give that preference much weight unless the child is mature enough to demonstrate that he or she applied reasoning to formulate that preference. Further, there is no age cutoff for this determination – every custody arrangement is decided on a case-by-case basis, and each child’s level of maturity is considered individually. Judges always proceed with caution when it comes to weighing a child’s preferences because children are generally more vulnerable to manipulation, and one or the other parent could be using the child as a weapon in the divorce.
Unless it’s an extreme situation, children rarely need to testify in open court regarding their custody preferences. Instead, children are generally protected from the rigors and stress of such testimony. Judges will often appoint a licensed social worker, therapist, or guardian ad litem – an agent or attorney whose job it is to represent the child – to meet with the child and to discern his or her preferences and attendant reasoning. These professionals are tasked with determining children’s wishes and relaying them back to the court.
Alternatively, the judge may choose to speak with the child in his or her chambers. In such instances, both parents’ attorneys and a court reporter should be in attendance. The resulting transcript can stand in for the child’s testimony in court if need be.
If you are going through a divorce, your most pressing concerns naturally focus on child custody arrangements. The dedicated family lawyers at Sabuco, Beck, Hansen & Massino, P.C. in Joliet, Illinois, have the experience, skill, and compassion to help you. For more information, please contact us today.
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