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Do My Child’s Wishes Matter in a Custody Case?

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Child Custody

wishes, child custody, Lombard family lawyersFor an unfortunately large number of divorcing or separating parents, battles over child custody become very contentious. Emotional turbulence and bitterness can cause parents to lose sight of their child’s best interest, while each parent tries to "win" against the other. Other parents, however, have a truly difficult time in determining what exactly lies in the best interest of the child, even without acrimony and hostility between them. If you are in such a situation, you may know what you want for your child, but what about his or her desires? Will the court give consideration to the wishes of a child?

The short answer to the latter question is yes. The court does, in fact, consider the wishes of the child when making a determination for child custody. Illinois law requires a court to do so, but only as a part of the overall decision-making process. The child’s wishes are not sacrosanct, and the court may find that child’s desires would not actually serve his or her best interest, but they will be taken into account.

In considering a child’s opinion, however, the court must also bear in mind the child’s age and maturity level. A very young child typically lacks the capacity to fully understand child custody situations, and may express wishes that are not feasible. An older child, however, may have a better grasp of the circumstances, and can base his or her opinions on more reasonable evidence, such as home and school environmental factors.

In most cases, a child will not be required to participate in open courtroom proceedings. Doing so can expose the child to a number of stressful issues that he or she may not be equipped to properly handle. Instead, the court may appoint a social worker, guardian ad litem, or other representative to meet with the child ascertain his or her wishes. As an alternative, the judge can interview the child in chambers with counsel for each parent present. This reduces the likelihood of the child’s wishes being coerced by either parent.

If you are involved in a child custody dispute and you believe that your child’s wishes should be made known to the court, contact an experienced family law attorney in Arlington Heights. At A. Traub & Associates, we are committed to helping families develop workable custody arrangements that meet the needs of both children and parents. Call us today to find out how we can assist you.

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