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?
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 teenaged 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.
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:
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.
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) 212-1399 today and let us assist you with your child custody questions and needs.
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