Child Custody Battles: Understand Your Options

 Posted on May 02, 2023 in Divorce

st. charles divorce lawyerIn 2016, the Illinois legislature struck the term ‘custody’ from the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and replaced it with ‘parenting time and parental responsibilities.’ Parenting time refers to a schedule of how each parent spends their time with their children, which is approved by a family court judge. The court makes the schedule per the 'best interests of the child' if the parents cannot agree. 

What Are Parenting Responsibilities?

A parent's decision-making responsibilities are called 'parenting responsibilities’ in Illinois. The parents can agree to share these responsibilities or one parent may have all decision-making authority. Parental responsibilities refer to major decisions about a child’s:

  • Religion
  • Health
  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities

As mentioned, an Illinois family court will allocate these responsibilities if the parents cannot decide or agree on them.

Factors Determining Child Custody in Illinois

Illinois courts use a certain set of factors to determine the child’s best interests when deciding who gets custody:

  • The ability of the parents to make decisions concerning their child
  • The child’s wishes (as per their ability to express them and in making important decisions)
  • How the child has adjusted to their school, community, and home
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved
  • The parents’ wishes and the child’s needs
  • The role of the parents in making important family decisions for the child 
  • How well the parents can cooperate or the conflict level between them which can affect their decisions
  • Agreements made between the parents about decisions regarding the child
  • The needs of the child
  • If the child is being threatened or is at risk of physical violence from either of the parents
  • The distance between the parents' homes, the cost of transporting the child and their schedule, and the ability of the parents to cooperate
  • Whether any of the parents is a sex offender. In case both are sex offenders, the court examines the nature of their offense along with treatment options they took part in successfully
  • Whether the parents are capable of fostering a close relationship with the child and themselves

There is no specific age at which the court allows a child to choose the parent they wish to stay with. However, since the court has to consider the child's best interests during custody cases, the court may consider their wishes.

In effect, the older the child is, the more likely the court will take their wishes into account, but it may not be the main determining factor in the court's decision.

Contact a Skilled Child Custody Lawyer in Kane County 

Child custody battles can be emotionally and physically grueling for all parties involved, requiring attorneys with both people and legal skills. At Shawn Sanders, we have professional and compassionate Kane County child custody attorneys who can guide you through the process and handle complex disputes on your behalf.

Call us today at 630-584-5550. We stay current on Illinois family laws and will inform you how those changes can affect your case. 


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