For people going through divorce in Illinois, it is important to be aware of the different factors a family court will use to determine child custody. In brief, the court may use any factor it deems relevant in making its custody determination, and the overall standard is the best interests of the child. The behavior and habits of the parents will be considered, as well as their relationship with the children and their ability to provide for the children going forward.
History and habits of the parents
The court in making a child custody determination is trying to ascertain the parents’ abilities to care for the children in the future. If either of the parents has a history of abuse, neglect or domestic violence, the court is likely to view that negatively. Likewise, a history of drug use or alcohol dependency, as these things can hurt the person’s ability to care for others. The mental and physical history of the parents will also be relevant. The court may allow testimony from character witnesses to establish evidence on these points.
Relationship with the child
The court will directly consider the quality of the preexisting relationship between the child and each of the parents. If the children are old enough, the court may inquire as to the children’s wishes regarding custody. Family law also allows for the consideration of how the child will be impacted by changing or continuing the status quo.
Ability to provide
Part of the consideration of a parent’s ability to provide in a child custody action is financial, but that’s not the whole story. The court will also consider the parent’s emotional capacity and their likelihood of providing a caring, stable living environment for the kids. It is common for a family court to ask the parents to each complete a child custody evaluation to assist in the decision. These are only a few of the myriad factors a court might consider, but it gives an overview of the considerations relevant in determining the best interests of the child.