Deciding Where a Child Should Live: Best Interest of the Child
Beginning in 2016, Illinois will no longer be using the phrase "child custody" when deciding what should happen to a child whose parents are splitting up, but the law still requires judges to evaluate what is in the best interest of the child. The court will need to decide where the child will live most of the time. This may no longer be called custody, but it functions in a similar way.
Judges know that while parents can and should share the major decision making and parenting tasks, the parents are most likely in court because they have difficulty resolving issues together.
Best Interest of the Child Standard
When dealing with children, courts are always charged with making decisions in the best interest of the child. What the best interest of the child actually means is a matter of interpretation.
The court must look at the emotional, physical, mental, and moral health of the child and decide which environment will be best for them. Judges rely heavily on custody evaluators when making decisions about where the child will live and how much parenting time is appropriate.
If there are allegations that one parent is not fit to be around the child, the judge will hear evidence and look to the custody evaluator for advice.
Factors Judges and Evaluators Consider
Judges look at a number of different factors when making choices about the child’s primary residence. These include:
- Where does the child live now?
- Who has been the primary caretaker of the child?
- How does the child perform in school?
- How much time will a parent have to spend with a child?
- Does either parent attempt to interfere with parenting time?
- Does any parent try and improperly influence the way a child feels about the other parent?
- Are there any special health concerns?
- What kind of parenting skills do the parents have?
The best interest of the child standard looks at all of the circumstances in the case of the individual child. The judge wants to make sure that the child will be physically and emotionally safe. The judge also wants to make sure both parents cooperate with the parenting plan and don’t try and make their child a pawn in their failed relationship.
When it comes to your child, you need to make sure you understand your rights and know how to best handle a custody dispute. Contact a knowledgeable Kane County family law attorney today.