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What does “best interests of the child” mean?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2021 | Child Custody |

You always want to maintain a strong relationship with your child. As a result, determining a parenting arrangement can be a particularly stressful aspect of divorce. Significant decision making (formerly called custody) and parenting time (formerly called visitation) are based on what is in the best interests of the child. What does that term mean for your family?

How does the court determine a child’s best interests?

Ultimately, the court determines what is in a child’s best interest by looking at what type of parenting arrangement will serve the child’s needs. This is accomplished by looking at a wide variety of different factors that impact your child’s physical, social, mental, and emotional wellbeing, including:

  • Your child’s wishes
  • The wishes of both parents
  • Your child’s relationship to his or her home, schools, and community
  • Each parent’s ability to co-parent with the other parent, including any limitations posed by the distance between the parents’ homes
  • Each parent’s past parenting responsibilities and involvement
  • Your child’s needs
  • The physical and mental health of both parents and the child
  • Any past abuse or sex offenses on the part of either parent

The court can also address any other issues that are relevant to your unique situation.

How much say do you have in your custody arrangement?

While many people think difficult court battles are necessary to decide parenting arrangements, that is not necessarily the case. In fact, mediation is a required first step when determining child custody in Illinois, with litigation only occurring if parents cannot work together to reach an agreement. Mediation and other collaborative approaches allow you and other parent to apply your knowledge about your child to create an arrangement that you believe supports his or her needs.

The attorneys of Beattie | Onorato Family Law can guide you through the mediation process and, if an agreement cannot be reached, will be ready to advocate for you in the courtroom. Contact us today at 312-809-2750 to discuss your parenting concerns.