Father playing with child

Courts awarding parental responsibility in child custody cases must consider many factors, including the wishes of both the parents and the child, the child’s current relationships, and mental and physical health for all involved. Weighing these choices is not easy, and often requires the help of a child custody attorney. By understanding what goes into this decision, parents will be better prepared for their custody hearings.

Wishes of the Parents and the Child

One factor considered in awarding parental responsibility in Illinois is the wishes of both parents as well as the child. If the child has a strong preference to have primary custody with one parent, or the child has a strong preference for a joint custody agreement, the courts will consider that heavily. If either parent has a strong preference for not having physical custody, they will also consider that in the decision.

Child’s Relationship with the Parents and Other Family Members

Next the courts will consider the child’s current relationship and interaction with family, including parents and siblings, as well as other close friends or relatives. When possible, the living arrangement will protect these close relationships. This can be a tricky factor, especially when there are multiple relationships that need protecting, which is why a child custody attorney can be so helpful.

The Child’s Adjustment to the Home and Community

Asking a child to change schools, neighborhoods, and communities is difficult. If the child is already adjusted to a particular environment, the courts will consider this factor when making their decision. Sometimes the best course of action is to allow the child to continue living in the community where he feels the most comfortable.

Physical and Mental Health

The physical and mental health of all parties is also considered in these situations. If a parent has a significant mental or physical handicap that would impact that parent’s ability to parent the child, it could mean they do not get as many parenting responsibilities. Parents who have a disability may need additional support from a child custody attorney to prove that they are able to handle these responsibilities, especially if the other parent is pushing for custody because of the disability.

History of Abuse

Finally, the courts will consider any history of abuse. The goal of Illinois custody agreements is to protect parental relationships while making a decision in the best interests of the child, and protecting children from abuse is part of that.