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How Do Children’s Wishes Influence Illinois Child Custody Cases?

Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce and parenting plan lawyerWhen Illinois parents get divorced, or when unmarried parents are separated, they are expected to create a parenting plan that designates when the child will spend time with each parent and how parents will share parenting obligations. However, forming a plan that both parents find acceptable is not always easy. Disagreements about the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time can be some of the most emotionally-charged legal disputes in all of family law. If you are a parent, you may understandably have strong feelings about these matters. There are a number of factors that contribute to child custody decisions. Often, these include the child’s preferences.

Illinois Law Regarding Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Parents who cannot reach an agreement about parental responsibilities and parenting time have several options. They may negotiate the terms of their parenting plan through their respective lawyers, work on a resolution through mediation or collaborative law, or litigate the case in court. Illinois courts make all child-related decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. When determining a parenting plan on behalf of parents, the court will consider multiple factors, including each parent’s wishes, the child’s school situation and extracurricular activities, the parents’ work schedule, any past instances of domestic violence or abuse, and the wishes of the child.

Children’s Opinions May Impact Child Custody Cases

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5) states that a child’s preferences should be taken into consideration by the court during child custody proceedings. However, the law also states that the child’s maturity and reasons for his or her preferences should be considered. Small children may be unable to express their wishes. Sometimes, children may express a preference for one parent over the other because that parent has less restrictive household rules or is otherwise more “fun.” However, if the child has a good reason to prefer a certain custody arrangement, it is likely that this preference will influence the outcome of the case.

In some situations, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is assigned to the case to determine what type of custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. The guardian ad litem may interview the parents, the children, teachers, therapists, counselors, and other people involved in the child’s life. He or she may also conduct an evaluation of each parent’s home and living conditions. After gathering the relevant information, the GAL will offer a recommendation to the court about what outcome he or she finds most appropriate.

Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Lawyer

Disputes regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time can be difficult to navigate on your own. For trustworthy legal guidance from a seasoned Wheaton family law attorney, contact The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. Call our office at 630-462-9500 today to schedule a confidential consultation.

Source:

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

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