If you are a parent facing divorce proceedings, you may have concerns about child custody. To help minimize conflicts, and to make decisions easier, the courts consider what is in the best interest of the child.
The state acknowledges that, in most situations, the child benefits from joint custody, although this does not necessarily mean that the parents will split physical custody 50/50.
General custody laws
According to FindLaw, Illinois recognizes both physical and legal custody. Legal allows the named parent(s) to make major decisions regarding medical care, education and religion. Physical refers to who the child lives with. Joint custody may refer to both types of custody or just one. The state also recognizes the rights of grandparents to have visitation.
A parenting plan outlines a variety of things, such as that the custodial parent makes daily decisions, how the child will spend vacations and holidays, that the plan may change as the child grows and transportation arrangements.
Best interest considerations
Illinois is one of the states that allows the child to have a say in custody decisions. Children 14 years of age and older can make their wishes known to the judge, although the judge still uses the best interests standard to make the final decision.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the judge considers the age, needs, health and current living situation of the child. He or she also examines the ability to provide for the child, the mental and physical health and the work schedules of each parent. If there are other family members or caretakers, the judge also considers the child’s relationship with each one.
There is often a myriad of emotions when it comes to child custody. However, the decision becomes a little easier when parents put aside their own wants and look at what is best for the child.