Can My Child Choose His or Her Own Parenting Time Schedule?
The short answer is this: it depends on the child and the circumstances he or she is facing. Typically, Illinois courts permit adolescents age 14 and over to weigh in on their parenting time schedule. When a young man or woman expresses a well-developed opinion about his or her parenting time, the court will often consider it alongside other factors to determine an appropriate parenting schedule for him or her. But a child’s opinion cannot be the only thing the court considers, and it is not required to consider the child’s opinion if there are other, more significant, factors present.
Yes, but the Court Can Overrule Your Child’s Choice
When the court develops a parenting time arrangement, it creates the arrangement that it determines to be in the child’s best interest. In most cases, it is in the child’s best interest to maintain a consistent relationship with each parent. One parent could be deemed to be better equipped to care for the child, and when this happens, that parent generally has a greater share of the child’s parenting time.
When the court considers a child’s opinion about his or her parenting schedule, it must determine whether the child’s opinion was logically developed or if he or she is being impulsive. The court must also determine if one parent manipulated the child into voicing such a request in order to receive a larger share of parenting time or “punish” the other parent.
Factors the Court Considers When Determining a Parenting Schedule
Alongside an adolescent’s preference, the court considers a series of factors to determine the parenting time arrangement that is in his or her best interest. These include, but are not limited to:
- Each parent’s income and ability to provide for the child financially;
- The child’s relationship with each parent;
- The other adults and children present in each parent’s household and their relationships with the child;
- How a specific parenting schedule would impact the child’s academic progress;
- All parties’ mental and physical health;
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with the court and facilitate a strong relationship between the child and the other parent; and
- Whether either parent has a history of domestic violence.
As a child grows and develops, the right parenting time schedule for him or her can change. Parents can modify existing parenting time schedules to accommodate their children’s changing needs and preferences.
Work with an Experienced Kane County Family Lawyer
Working out an appropriate parenting time schedule for your children is not always easy, especially once the children are old enough to develop their own opinions about the time they spend with each parent. Before you begin discussing your divorce and parenting time schedule with your children, speak with an experienced Kane County family lawyer about how parenting time is determined, your rights, your children’s rights, and what to expect from the divorce process. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 today to set up your free consultation with us.