Are you concerned about how custody will be determined? Do you want your child’s input to be considered when custody is decided? These are important questions all parents must ask themselves when facing a child custody dispute. If you have questions about child custody laws, and how those laws will impact your case, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. today. You can schedule a free consultation, and discuss your case with a Wheaton custody lawyer.
Dividing Child Custody in Illinois
There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the authority a parent has or both parents share over the major decisions in the child’s life. These decisions often relate to a child’s medical needs, education, and religion. Physical custody relates to parental access to the child. That is, physical custody is that parenting time a parent can enjoy with their child. Usually, one parent is the custodial parent, and the other is the non-custodial parent. The child primarily resides with the custodial parent, and has visitation with the non-custodial parent.
There are a variety of ways for parents to divide custody. For example, in some cases parents may equally share both physical and legal custody. In other cases, there is a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent, and both parties share legal custody. There are a number of possibilities when it comes to deciding custody arrangements. Every custody case involves unique circumstances, and the circumstances in your case will determine your custody arrangements.
Determining the Child’s Best Interests
Both legal and physical custody are determined in the best interests of the child. This means that any custody proposal will be weighed against the child’s physical, emotional, and mental needs. A judge will consider many factors when deciding what exactly is in the child’s best interests. These factors include:
- The child’s physical, emotional, and mental needs;
- The child’s wishes and long-term goals;
- The child’s relationship with both parents;
- The child’s relationships with other relatives, including siblings and grandparents;
- Each parent’s preference; and
- The child’s community and cultural ties.
As a parent, if you ask the court for a particular custody arrangement then you must show that arrangement is in your child’s best interest.
Does My Child Get a Say in Custody?
As seen above, one of the factors a judge will consider when determining custody is your child’s wishes and long-term goals. The judge will decide how much weight to give your child’s wishes. This often depends on the child’s age and maturity level. A judge may be more likely to prioritize a 16-year-old child’s wishes than a five-year-old child’s. Often, judges will interview the child separately to ensure that their custody preferences are independent of their parents’. A child’s preferences are one of many factors that go into the custody calculation. The child’s own wishes regarding custody must still be weighed against the best interests standard.
Our firm is dedicated to providing Wheaton families with the legal help they need to move forward in custody matters. If you are facing a custody dispute, contact us at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. today.