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How does IL law define the best interests of the child?

One of the more subjective aspects of a child custody dispute in Illinois has to do with the best interests of the child. Often, parents are not entirely sure as to how a court determines what the child's best interests are, what will be factored in, and what can be done if there is a disagreement as to the determination. This is why parents should have an understanding as to what the law says about the child's best interests.

Illinois law provides that a family law court should take into account the following factors: what the parents want when it comes to time spent with the child; contingent on the child's age and maturity level, the child's desires; how much time the parents spent caring for the child in the pervious two years before a filing to allocate parenting responsibilities was made or, if the child is under age two, the time since birth; if there was an agreement as to the caretaking responsibilities of the child; and the interaction of the child between the parents and siblings.

A court should also consider other factors, including: how the child adjusts to the home, school and community; what the mental and physical health of all the participants is; the needs of the child; and how far apart the parents live and accompanying costs related to transportation along with schedules and ability to cooperate. If there is a reason to restrict the time that a parent spends with the child, the court should also take that into account. Likewise, if there is an issue with physical violence, that will likely affect the outcome of the case. Courts evaluate a number of other factors including any that it views as important.

The state laws are in place to be fair to the parents and provide the proper care for the children. When it comes to child custody and parenting time, the best interests of the child are paramount. Knowing the criteria is important, but it is also important to have legal help with an experienced attorney providing advice and guidance from the beginning of the case to the end.

Source: ilga.gov, "Sec. 602.7. Allocation of parental responsibilities: parenting time. -- (b)," accessed on March 29, 2016

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