If you are an Illinois parent who is going through a contested divorce, the custody of your children is likely to be a primary concern. Ideally, the parents will be able to put aside their differences and work together for the best interests of the children.
But we live in the real world, not a Utopian fantasy land. That means that custody can typically be hotly contested between the parents. In many instances, it is the family law courts that are tasked with sorting out which parent the kids will live he bulk of the time.
Can children provide any input into the decision?
Here in Illinois, there is no specific age at which a child can voice their preference over their living arrangements. However, the law states that judges must consider a mature child’s opinion in these matters.
So, what does that mean in practice when there is no legal age? Because it can be traumatic and create lasting damage between parent and child, most of these decisions do not rely on actual court testimony. The family law judge can instead interview the child in their chambers in what is often called an in-camera hearing where a child might be represented by a court-appointed guardian ad litem tasked with representing the child’s best interests.
Some kids demonstrate maturity at 11 or 12, while others are still quite immature at 15 or even 16. The judge is always free to override the child’s stated preference, especially if it appears they want to live with their more lenient parent so they get away with more.
Do you have custody questions?
Learning more about how the Illinois family law courts work can leave you better positioned to achieve your aims regarding the custody of children in divorce.