Too often, parents who are going through a divorce focus their energies on fighting with one another rather than on finding workable solutions for raising their children. Under Illinois law, divorcing parents are expected to develop a cooperative plan that addresses the allocation of parental responsibilities—once called child custody. Such an agreement, however, is not always possible, and the matter is left to the court to decide. During the proceedings, each parent will the opportunity make his or her case, which will be taken into account by the judge. But what about the child? Does the child get a say in how parental responsibilities are allocated?
The Wishes of the Child
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act clearly provides that, yes, the wishes of the child are to be considered by the court in a proceeding related to decision-making responsibilities or parenting time. The law, however, does include an important caveat. The court must also take “into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences.”