Parenting Time and Your Child’s Opinion
When you and your child’s other parent are forced to come up with arrangements regarding for parenting time—previously known as visitation under Illinois law—it can be regrettably easy to get caught up in your own wants and needs. Some, of course, are entirely reasonable, such as building parenting time schedules around your career obligations, but many parents often forget to take their child’s wishes into account.
What the Law Says
While parents are free to develop a parenting plan—including arrangements for parenting time—on their own, such a plan must be reasonable and serve the best interests of the child. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, arrangements may be made by the court. In doing so, the court is required by law to take a number of factors into account, including the wishes of the child in question. The child’s wishes are not necessarily binding but should factor into the court’s ultimate decision.
Your Child’s Understanding
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifies that a child’s wishes should be considered in the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time proceedings. The law also provides, however, that the court must recognize the child’s maturity and ability to understand the entire situation. A young child, for example, is likely to hold an opinion regarding which parent is more “fun,” and want to spend more time at that parent’s house. An older child, on the other hand, is more likely to understand the importance of fostering a healthy relationship with both parents and be more open to compromise.
Presenting Your Child’s Wishes
It is highly unlikely that your child will be asked to appear in open court to discuss his or her wishes regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities. Instead, the law provides that such conversations may be conducted as interviews in the judge’s chambers, with or without attorneys present based on the circumstances of the case. Alternatively, the court may seek the assistance of an outside professional to interview the child and prepare a report regarding the child’s wishes. In more extreme cases, the court may order an investigation or appoint a guardian ad litem to ensure that the best interests of the child are fully protected.
Work With a Knowledgeable Lawyer
If you would like to learn more about the process of allocating parental responsibilities and parenting time in Illinois, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.