How do Courts Determine What Is in a Child’s Best Interests?
When allocating parenting time between two parents who have decided to separate, Illinois courts are specifically directed to make their determination based on what would be in a child’s best interests. Although this may seem like a vague standard, Illinois law actually establishes what factors are important in determining a child’s best interests. Applying these factors to a particular case can, however, be a complicated process, so if you share a child with a former partner and need help coming up with a parenting plan that reflects what is best for your family, it is critical to consult with an experienced Lombard, IL child custody and parental responsibilities lawyer before proceeding with your case.
The Best Interests of the Child Standard
Like most other states, Illinois lawmakers adopted a series of factors that courts must consider in evaluating what is in a child’s best interests, including:
- Both parents’ wishes
- The child’s wishes, if he or she is mature enough to express a reasonable preference
- Whether one of the parents was primarily responsible for childcare responsibilities in the preceding two years
- Any agreement between the parties regarding caretaking functions
- The child’s relationship with his or her siblings and each parent
- The child’s level of comfortability in his or her home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved
- Whether the child has specific developmental or medical needs
- The distance between the parents’ residences
- Both parents’ daily schedules
- Whether there is a history of physical violence or abuse in the family
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to facilitate a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
It’s also important to note that not all custody agreements are created by judges. In fact, many parents are able to establish their own parenting plan and parenting time schedule in an out-of-court setting. Even these agreements, however, will need to adhere to the best interests of the child standard, or a court will refuse to approve them and may even implement a new plan in the original agreement’s stead.
Creating a Parenting Time Schedule
The details of a parenting plan will depend largely on how the aforementioned factors apply in a specific case. Courts do generally, however, try to create parenting plans that allow children to continue to build a relationship with both parents. For parents who live near each other, this could take the form of a schedule in which a child splits his or her time equally between both parents. When this is not possible, however, due to the distance between homes, the school district, or other limitations, a family could implement a schedule in which a child spends one or two nights a week and every other weekend with a particular parent. It is also common for children to alternate holidays and summer vacation, spending every other year with each parent.
DuPage County Child Custody Attorneys
For help coming up with a parenting plan that suits your family’s needs and is in your child’s best interests, please contact the talented Lombard child custody and parental responsibilities lawyers at Aldrich & Siedlarz Law, P.C. by calling 630-953-3000 today.