When it comes to child custody issues the phrase “best interest of the child” is heard often. Early on in my family law practice, I found out that it is best to actually sit down with child custody clients and go over each and every “best interest factor” that is cited in the Illinois 750 ILCS 5/602, otherwise the phrase seems rather generic and assumed to be easily provable.
The best interests factors weigh heavily in determining parenting time and responsibility allocations when those are in dispute. The child’s best interest factors are also heavily focused on when a parent is petitioning the court for a modification of the allocation of parental responsibilities. It is also important to note, that there are differences between the best interest factors for the allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities and the factors used for determining parenting time, as shown below.
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Illinois Best Interest of the Child Factors
Under Part C, the law is more specific as to what constitutes the best interest of the child. Entitled “Determination of the Child’s Best Interests,” it specifically provides us with a list of factors that the Court looks at in determining what the best interest of the child is. Those factors are discussed in turn below.
1. Child’s Wishes
This factor provides that the child’s wishes will be looked at by the Court. This generally means the Court will take an interest in what the child wants, and in doing so, will take into account the child’s ability to effectively communicate their interest by considering their age.
- Does the child want to live with mom or dad?
- Does the child even have a preference with regard to which parent they live with?
- Is the child old enough to make such a decision, and is the child able to adequately provide a compelling reason for their specific choice?
2. Child’s Adjustment to Their Place of Residence
The second factor Courts take into consideration is the child’s adjustment to their place of residence. When it comes to their place of residence, the court considers answers to the following types of questions.
- Does the child really love the neighborhood they are currently living in?
- Did that child grow up in that neighborhood and live there all their lives? or, if they did not live there all their lives, did they spend a significant time there?
- Do they feel comfortable with where they live?
- Do they like their school?
- Would requiring the child to move away from their neighborhood to live with another parent, for example, cause them distress?
- Would causing them to move to disrupt their lives?
3. Mental and Physical Health of the Both Child and Parents
The third factor Courts take into consideration is the mental and physical health of both parents and child(ren) alike. Does one parent suffer from severe depression, for example, which would interfere with his or her ability to take of the minor child? Is one of the parents suicidal?
Get the information you need for child custody with our free resource – Illinois Child Custody Playbook.
Understanding the Best Interest Factors in Your Child’s Situation
It is important to review these factors and outline how they can assist or harm you in your argument for parenting time and decision-making. It is also important to be honest regarding your position on each factor and what can assist or harm you if you are working with an attorney.
When it comes to matters of child custody or the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time, it is important to seek advice and input from an experienced, trusted child custody lawyer in Chicago. Contact Anderson, Boback & Marshall today when you’re faced with questions about the Illinois best interest factors for your child(ren).