What Does “Best Interests” Mean and Other Child Custody Issues?
If you are getting divorced or you are an unmarried parent, you may have questions about how child custody, called the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, is handled. You have probably seen phrases such as, “The court will determine a parenting time schedule that is in the child’s best interests.” You may have wondered what the phrase “best interests” actually means in this context.
Determining What is in a Child’s Best Interests
When a married couple with children gets divorced or an unmarried couple has a child together, they have the option of creating their own arrangement for parenting time and parental responsibilities. Parents who need help negotiating a parenting plan may benefit from the help of a qualified mediator. However, even with mediation, coming to an agreement about the allocation of parental responsibilities is not possible for some parents. In cases like this, the court will consider a number of factors to determine a parenting arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. These factors include but are not limited to:
- Each parent’s wishes regarding custody
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express these wishes
- The relationship the child has with his or her parents, siblings, and any other individuals who may affect his or her best interests
- Each parent’s ability to facilitate a good relationship between the child and the other parent
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and neighborhood
- Any domestic violence or abuse that has occurred and
- Whether or not either of the parents is a sex offender
Unless there has been ongoing abuse as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, Illinois courts typically assume that it is in the child’s best interests to have both of his or her parents highly involved in his or her life.
Contact an Aurora Child Custody Lawyer
When parents cannot agree on child custody issues, the court will decide for them. The parents’ wishes, the wishes of the child, any history of abuse, the health of the parents, and many other factors are considered by Illinois courts when making child custody determinations. If you are in a custody dispute, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. for help. Schedule a free consultation with a proficient Kane County family law attorney by calling us at 630-584-5550.