Divorce and separation can be hard on any family. Disputes could cause rifts between parents, affecting their relationship with their children.
Because of the potential effects on the children’s well-being, the state takes child custody and visitation matters seriously. In Illinois, the government requires parents to attend court-ordered classes on the effects of divorce and to set up a parenting plan.
If the parents cannot agree and settle matters independently, the court might intervene to help make decisions prioritizing the child’s best interest. Typically, the following factors help the court with custody and visitation decisions:
- The child’s wishes
- Time spent by each parent caring for the child
- Child caring agreements made beforehand
- Family relationships and dynamics
- Needs of the child
- The child’s capacity to adapt
- Mental and physical health of the child and the parents
- Logistics affecting transport and schedule
- Other factors affecting safety, such as domestic abuse in the home or parents’ criminal history
- Parent’s military deployment, if relevant
The court will review these aspects of the child’s life and determine the best arrangement based on the situation. They could also order mediation to help the parents resolve disputes or disagreements.
How does the court protect the child’s welfare?
After considering their schedules and ability to cooperate, the court typically allocates custody and visitation obligations between the parents.
Additionally, they could uphold the child’s rights by appointing an attorney to represent them in court, usually seen in contested cases. If it happens, the parents will pay the lawyer’s fees on top of their legal representation.
Still, the process of settling these matters depends significantly on the circumstances. If any factors could put the child in danger, the court must consider them and decide appropriately.