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Illinoisans generally have a sound grasp of the child-custody basics. But that grasp weakens as they move from the basics to the details. Yet often the details are what really matter. Below are answers to some common questions.

What factors do courts look at when deciding which parent gets child custody? In brief, courts look at many factors, effectively any factor that seems relevant. For example, courts will consider each parents’ health and financial status. They will look at the child’s age and history. They will mull the child’s relationship to each parent. And they will assess the child’s preference — especially for older children.

Does moving to a new state hurt a parent’s claim to child custody? Generally yes. Courts can view the move as a lack of commitment to the child. They can also consider it as upturning a child’s status quo. But sometimes a move can actually play in favor of the parent. For example, if a parent moves to get away from an abusive parent. Context is king.

Do courts favor mothers? In the past, yes. In the present, less so. These days courts typically do a good job of focusing on the child’s best interests. As a result, both parents can generally look forward to getting a fair airing of their arguments in favor of receiving child support.

Is custody always awarded to only one parent? No, not always. Certainly courts can award sole custody. But in many instances they will award joint custody in which the parents take turns caring for and living with the child.

Illinoisans who would like to learn more may benefit from discussing their situation with an experienced family-law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, “Getting Custody FAQ,” Accessed Oct. 5, 2015