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Residential Custody: Your Child’s Right to Choose

residential custody in Illinois, McHenry County child custody attorneyDetermining child custody in a divorce can be a lengthy and emotionally taxing process. In Illinois, the judge will consider many factors, including the testimonies of each parent, as well as the physical and mental health of the child and parents, when awarding custody.

However, your children will not be voiceless throughout this process. As outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the judge may take into consideration the child’s wishes.

Children ages 14 or older may choose which parent to live with, but a judge can overrule this decision if he or she decides the child’s choice is not in their best interest. There are a few questions that judges may consider when adjudicating a case where a child has strong preferences toward a particular parent:

  1. What is the level of stability or reliability of the parent with whom the child wants to live? If that parent is unreliable, the judge may not approve the decision.

  2. What is the level of the child’s emotional and intellectual development, and social maturity? Judges may be more receptive to a child who is able to understand the full ramifications of his or her decision.

  3. Is the decision being made against the wishes of either parent? For example, the judge may ask if the child been bribed, manipulated, or pressured into the decision.

  4. Can the child clearly articulate his or her reasons for preferring one parent over the other? If a child appears confused, insincere, or uncertain, the judge may ignore or discount the testimony.

In Illinois, a judge may even decide to talk with the child privately.

If you are dealing with child custody, divorce, or other family law issues, contact an experienced McHenry County child custody attorney. With more than 16 years of experience under her belt, Colleen Thomas can represent you and your child’s interests during a divorce. Call 847-426-7990 to schedule an initial consultation.

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