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Illinois Children of Divorce Can Address Their Rights of Residency in Custody Cases

Posted on in Divorce

illinois child residential preference, oak park custody lawyerAs we begin the New Year, it appears that the divorce rate for American couples remains in perpetual motion. Per the American Psychological Association (APA), a leading scientific and professional organization, the U.S. divorce rate is between 40 to 50 percent.

It is also estimated that 50 percent of all children in this country will experience the divorce of their parents before turning 18 years old. Based on state law, age, and maturity level, the majority of these children can voice their wishes as to which parent they would prefer to live with

A Child's Say in Where He or She Lives

In Illinois, under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), divorcing parents are urged to actively participate in shared joint allocation of parental responsibility (formerly known as child custody). However, when a child is between 14 to 17, he or she can address a judge regarding their primary residential preference. 

Although this is permissible, the final decision is left to the judge who may opt to overrule the request if the child's wishes are believed not within the best interest of the child. Since the judge will make the final decision, there are several areas of consideration that may be undertaken to determine whether or not the child's request will be approved or denied.

Factors Judges Look At in Custody Cases

The judge will first consider the age and maturity level of the child according to Illinois statute and then review the child's request and the specific reasoning behind favoring one parent over the other. Often, the judge will speak directly with the minor, enlist the help of a professional, and may also request legal representation for the child, such as an attorney or guardian ad litem. Psychiatrists may also be asked to speak with the child and offer a professional opinion or recommendation.

Since the best interest of the child is the primary focus, the judge will incorporate not only the request but will also include other factors such as:

  • Both parents' opinions,
  • How the decision will affect adjustments to home, school, and community,
  • The relationships between siblings and extended family members,
  • The possible emotional and psychological aftereffects of the choice,
  • Discovery of any alleged violence, threats or instances of abuse,
  • The fostering of a healthy continuation of both parental relationships, and
  • Any other relevant factors.

As in many other states, Illinois offers the child a voice and the opportunity to present their feelings. However, in the majority of cases, the outcome depends on what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child.

Contact Our Oak Park Lawyer

If your child has voiced his or her wishes to live primarily with one parent, the Oak Park child custody attorneys of the Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C. can help. With over 30 years of legal experience, we will address your legal rights but will also keep the best interest of your child as our highest priority. Contact our office today at 708-449-7400 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

http://www.children-and-divorce.com/children-divorce-statistics.html

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8300000&SeqEnd=10000000

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