In child custody proceedings, the “best interest of the child” is a commonly heard and used phrase. When a court is called upon to make a custody decision, a number of issues will be carefully considered and weighed to reach the best possible outcome for the children involved.
The family courts take a considerable amount of time and care when making child custody decisions as the health and welfare of a child will be the main concern and consideration.
Factors considered to determine what is in a child’s best interest
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) has established a list of required factors for the court to reference when making decisions on behalf of a child:
- Wishes of the parents
- Wishes of the child
- Relationships and interactions the child has with the parents
- Potential adjustment for a child that might involve home, school or community
- Mental and physical health of the parents and child
- History of abuse and potential continued risk
- Willingness and ability of the parents to work together
- Living situation of both parents
- Convicted sex offender status of either parent
Other factors taken into consideration:
The courts have wide discretion to determine the best result for a child, so other factors could be considered as well:
- Race and religion
- Work schedules and availability of the parents
- History of substance abuse of one or both parents
- Whether the child is a natural child or an adoptive child
The general safety and well-being of a child are the main concerns in a custody case, and the court will do everything possible to ensure that a child’s best interests are honored and respected. Each factor will be considered carefully for the best possible outcome.