In determining who should have custody of a child after a divorce in Illinois, judges generally base their decision on the best interests of the child. Many factors are relevant in determining a child’s best interests, and there are no hard-and-fast rules. In general, courts look at which parent is better able to provide consistency and limit the amount of disruption in the child’s life.
The child’s age is often relevant in determining custody. Younger children require more hands-on care, so the children’s primary caregiver is often favored in custody disputes. Courts may also consider the child’s wishes in determining custody, particularly if the child is older. Safety is a critical factor in determining child custody. If one parent is abusive or lacks the physical or mental capacity to act in the child’s interests, then courts usually will favor the parent who is able to meet all of the child’s needs.
Courts favor custody arrangements that allow children to remain in their same school and neighborhood. Maintaining contact with the noncustodial parent is also a key concern. Courts often prioritize parents who are willing and able for the child to maintain contact with the other parent.
Parents who wish to obtain sole or primary custody of the child should demonstrate to the judge that they are willing to place the interests of the child over their own interests. Courts view positively efforts that a parent has made to foster good will with their ex-spouse. Furthermore, any evidence of long-term involvement in the child’s education and activities are important factors for consideration. An experienced divorce attorney may assist divorcing parents who wish to obtain primary or sole custody.
Source: Very Well Family, “Understanding the Child’s Best Interest Standard,” January 8, 2019