What Is the Best Interest of the Child in an Illinois Custody Case?
One of the main factors the court will use when deciding child custody in a divorce is what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Over the past few decades, society’s – and the courts – have changed their understanding of what those best interest actually are. Although there is no “official” legal checklist the court checks off to meet that standard, there are elements the judge will look for when making his or her final decision.
The Age of the Child
The first thing the court will consider is the age of the child. The younger the child, the more “hands-on” care they need. In especially young children, the court may look at which parent has been the primary caretaker thus far, evaluating what type of bond has been established with each parent. In older children, the court may consider what type of arrangement the child prefers.
Another element the court will examine is the ability of each of the parents to meet not only the child’s physical needs – such as food, housing, clothing, etc. but also the child’s emotional needs. If a parent has issues with their emotional or physical health, the court may weigh that as well, if the issue would interfere with the parent’s ability to care for the child.
Children need consistency. Their security often depends on knowing their day-to-day routine, with no surprises, when it comes to where they live, go to school, childcare, extra-curricular activities, and more. When deciding custody, a judge will try to keep the child’s living arrangements as close to what they are used to, as long as this is in the child’s best interest. This is especially important if there is any kind of distance between where the parents’ homes.
The safety of the child is always of the utmost important to the court and judges will not hesitate to limit parenting time if there is sufficient evidence that a parent is struggling with an alcohol and/or drug issue, or if there has been a history of any family violence.
Call a Kane County Family Lawyer for Legal Assistance
If you have decided to end your marriage and have children, make sure you have a dedicated St. Charles, IL divorce attorney advocating for you and protecting your parental rights. Call Shaw Sanders, P.C. at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free consultation and find out what your legal options may be.