Your Child’s Wishes Regarding Custody and Parenting Time

child's wishes, DuPage County family law attorneyWhen a couple with children breaks up or gets divorced, it is often the children who get caught in the middle. Along with the other considerations inherent to the proceedings, the divorcing parents are faced with deciding how to divide parental responsibilities and parenting time. This concept used to be known as child custody in Illinois, but changes to the law have updated the language being used by the courts. Regardless of what it may be called, determining who will be responsible for your child and where he or she will live are serious concerns with many factors to be considered. Some people may be surprised to learn that the child’s wishes are, by law, expected to be part of the equation.

What the Law Says

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a child does have some say in how parental responsibilities and parenting time are allocated by the courts. The court, however, will not base its decision solely on the child’s wishes; they are a part of the bigger picture. Other factors, as one might expect, include each parent’s ability and willingness to provide for the child, allegations or history of abuse, and the relationship each parent has with the child.

Age and Maturity

When taking the child’s wishes into account, the court is required to consider the child’s ability to understand the situation and to make mature, rational choices. The law does not provide any age-related guidelines; instead, it is up to the court to determine the credibility of a child on a case-by-case basis. For example, a preschool-aged child is not likely to comprehend the implications of going to live with Dad. A high school-aged child, however, is likely to have a better grasp of the situation at hand and, therefore, would be more capable of a reasonable opinion.

Getting the Child’s Opinion

Very few children are ever required to testify in open court. In most cases, the judge will conduct a private interview with the child in chambers. If there are questions regarding the safety of the child or his or her best interests, the court may order a custody evaluation or appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the situation.

If you are involved a dispute related to parental responsibilities or parenting time, it is important to work with a legal professional who understands the law and how to protect your rights. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. by calling [[phone]] today.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=0&SeqStart=8350000&SeqEnd=10200000

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