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Is a Child Able to Decide Which Parent They Want to Live With in a Child Custody Case?

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Is a Child Able to Decide Which Parent They Want to Live With in a Child Custody Case?

Is a Child Able to Decide Which Parent They Want to Live With in a Child Custody Case?

Many parents who are facing divorce believe that the issue of whom their children will live with is a matter for their older children to decide on their own, but this is not exactly how the law works. While your children may be allowed to weigh in on the matter, their preferences will not be determinative in the court’s decision. If you are facing a parenting time concern related to how your children will divide their time between you and your divorcing spouse, seeking the professional legal counsel of an experienced Illinois parenting time attorney is in your best interest.

The Children’s Best Interests

When Illinois courts make determinations regarding parenting time, they take a wide range of factors into careful consideration, but in the final analysis, their decisions are always based on the best interests of the involved children. One of the factors included is the preference of the child – if they are deemed by the court to be old enough and mature enough to have their preference heard. There is, however, no predetermined age that is used as a yardstick. Instead, each case must be determined on its own merits. Other factors that the court considers include:

  • Each parent’s preference
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the children with the care and attention they need
  • Each parent’s commitment to supporting the ongoing relationship between the children and their other parent
  • Each child’s needs, including any special needs

The Court’s Position

Illinois courts are moved by the best interests of children, and while a child’s preference can help inform the judge’s decision, the primary issue is that children require their parents to make well-informed decisions on their behalf. In other words, allowing children to make their own decisions regarding what’s best for them defeats the purpose of parenting time orders, which are designed to help ensure that children continue to benefit from their parent’s guidance and care. When a child is found to be mature enough to weigh in, the judge may meet with the child in chambers or may assign a professional to assess the child’s preferences outside of court and relay their findings back to the judge.

The Decision-Making Process

If you and your divorcing spouse are able to resolve the matter of your parenting time schedule between yourselves, you won’t need the court’s intervention on the matter – as long as your choices reflect your children’s best interests. As such, you are welcome to take your children’s preferences into consideration, but you and your divorcing spouse will need to reach a consensus on the final decision.   

An Illinois Parenting Time Attorney Is Standing by to Help

The capable Illinois family law attorneys at the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC dedicate their practice to skillfully advocating for the parental rights of clients like you, and we’re here for you too. Your case is important, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information today. 

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