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Does Your Child’s Opinion Matter in a Custody Proceeding?

 Posted on July 26, 2016 in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneyDuring a proceeding for child custody—now known in Illinois as the allocation of parental responsibilities—your child may have strong opinions as to where they would like to live or how much time they want to spend with each parent. The amount that a child’s opinion affects custody decisions can vary from case to case and often depends on the judge’s discretion. There are several factors that a judge will take into consideration with regard to determining parenting arrangements, and the child’s wishes are often among of these factors.

The Child’s Reasoning and Decision-Making Abilities

Judges generally have some basic criteria they look for when deciding how much weight to give a child’s wishes during a custody proceeding.  These criteria can include but are not limited to:

  • The maturity level of the child;
  • The mental health and emotional stability of the child;
  • Family relationships, including the child’s relationships with each parent and siblings
  • The child’s academic performance and community connections;
  • The living environment of both homes; and
  • How the child’s wishes will affect his or her ability foster relationships with other family members.

The judge may consider the child’s preference when making custody decisions, but the bottom line is that he or she will always choose what is best for the child. This means that, in many cases, a court will be forced to rule against the child’s wishes, as he or she is often not equipped to understand that her preferred outcome is not what is actually best.  

Parental Influence

While children are almost always influenced in many ways by their parents, in proceedings for parental responsibilities, the court must ensure that neither parent is trying to use the child to manipulate the outcome of the case. If undue influence is suspected, the court will likely appoint a guardian ad litem or a custody evaluator to the case to help ascertain the child’s actual preferences. In addition, the guardian ad litem or evaluator will review the entire situation and make a determination regarding the best possible outcome for the child.

If you have questions about proceedings for child custody, contact an experienced family law attorney in Lombard today. At A. Traub & Associates, we have the knowledge and skill to help you provide a happy, healthy post-divorce life for yourself as well as your children. Schedule a confidential consultation at any of our three convenient locations today. We have offices in Lombard, Arlington Heights, and Chicago South Loop.



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