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How Are Child Interviews Used in an Illinois Child Custody Dispute?

Posted on in Child Custody

DuPage County child custody dispute attorneyMany divorcing parents have strong opinions about how parental responsibilities and parenting time should be divided. Parents may disagree about the child’s primary residence, parenting time schedules, how major decisions about the child should be made, and much more. If you are a divorcing parent in the middle of a child-related dispute, or you suspect that you soon will be, you may have questions about how child custody decisions are made in Illinois. You may wonder about the impact that your child’s opinion could have on the outcome of your case. In Illinois, child interviews may be used to gather information about the child’s thoughts and opinions during a custody dispute. However, these interviews are only one element of the court’s decision-making process.

Disagreements about Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

Although many family law cases address child custody in a general sense, Illinois law no longer uses the terms “child custody” and “visitation.” In the actual law, child custody is described by the “allocation of parental responsibilities,” meaning the parents’ decision-making authority, and “parenting time,” which is the actual time a parent spends with their child. Decisions about parental responsibilities, parenting time, and other custody-related issues must be stated in the parents’ “parenting plan.” If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to allocate parental responsibilities or parenting time, you may be able to negotiate an agreement with help from your attorneys or through an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation. However, if you still cannot reach an agreement, your case may go to court.

How Illinois Courts Make Decisions in Child Custody Disputes

If your child custody dispute cannot be resolved out of court, a judge will hear arguments from both parties and then issue a judgment about the unresolved issues. Illinois courts consider the wishes of the parents as well as those of the children in many child custody cases. Often, a special representative called a guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to represent a child’s best interests during a child custody dispute. The GAL may gather the child’s testimony during an interview and incorporate that information into his or her formal recommendation to the court. 

The judge may also decide to speak directly to the child. Children are almost never asked to testify on the witness stand during a child custody dispute. If the judge wishes to speak to the child, he or she will almost certainly speak to the child in the private judge’s chambers or another area of the court. A child’s opinion will not be the sole determining factor in a child custody case, but it can have a significant influence on the outcome of the case.

Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Lawyer

If you are planning to get a divorce, and you have questions or concerns about child custody, contact a Wheaton family law attorney at The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. Call us today at 630-462-9500 to schedule a confidential consultation.

Source:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&SeqStart=8300000&SeqEnd=10000000

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