Do My Kids Get a Voice in Which Parent They Will Live With?

A Chicago Divorce Attorney Answers a Common Concern for Recently Divorced Parents.

Giving children a voice in determining where they want to live following an Illinois divorce is a great idea for one parent – and is often considered a terrible idea by the other parent. “After all,” some parents may think, “how could a judge order my 5-year-old (or my 10-year-old or teenager) to live with the other parent if they adamantly tell him they want to live with me?” But does a judge have to consider a child’s wishes when determining who will have residential custody of the child?

An Illinois Judge May Give Consideration to a Child’s Wishes

The law provides that a child’s wishes are but one of a number of factors the court may consider when making a custody determination. Each judge in Illinois has his or her own personal beliefs and practices regarding when – if ever – he or she will consider the wishes of a child in setting custody. For example, some judges will only consider the wishes of a teenage child who has demonstrated maturity and thoughtfulness in considering where he or she would like to live. Other judges will never consider the wishes of a child, believing every child to be too immature to make an informed decision. Still, others will consider a child’s wishes only if the child testifies at a hearing. In any case, however, the child’s wishes (if expressed) are only one factor used to determine a child’s custody arrangement. The court must make a custody determination based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Think Carefully About Whether You Want Your Child to Express His or Her Thoughts

Assuming that a judge will allow your child to express his or her desires regarding where he or she would like to live, that does not necessarily mean it is a good idea to require your child to do such. Consider that:

  • Testifying or speaking with a judge is nerve-wracking enough for adults. For children, the experience can be downright traumatizing;
  • Your child may resent being put in a situation in which he or she feels he or she is being asked to choose which parent he or she likes better; and
  • Any number of other factors about you and the other parent’s situations can mean that the child’s wishes and desires are not necessarily the best choice for the child.

Judges tend to give very little weight or consideration to young children’s desires and wishes regarding custody. However, a child who is an older teenager (between 16 years of age and 18 years of age, for instance) and who demonstrates to the judge that he or she has given serious thought and consideration to the issue of custody will generally be given greater consideration.

Look to a Chicago Custody Attorney for Help

A better way to obtain or maintain custody of your child is to seek the assistance of Arami Law, your Chicago child custody attorneys. We are skilled in investigating the favorable facts and circumstances of your situation and presenting these facts to the court in a persuasive manner. Contact us at (312) 584-6355 today and let us assist you with your child custody questions and needs.

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