Can a Child Ever Decide Which Parent to Live With?

fathers with primary custody

Divorce is a complicated issue, and for many people, it signifies both the end of one chapter and the beginning of another chapter in their lives. Unfortunately, however, divorce is often the most difficult for the children involved. As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child, but ultimately, if you can’t reach a custody agreement with your spouse on your own, the court will do so on your behalf. Many parents wonder whether their child can tell the judge if they have a preference in terms of which parent they want to live with. Please continue reading and reach out to a seasoned Tazewell County family law attorney from Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C. to learn more about how custody works in Illinois and how our legal team can help protect your child’s interests. Here are some of the questions you may have:

Is my child allowed to decide which parent they want to live with?

In short, the answer to this question is no, your child may not decide which parent they want to live with. However, it’s important to understand that if the court considers your child old or mature enough, they may very well consider his or her preference. So while your child does not have the final say, their preference may carry some weight.

What other factors do courts consider when determining custody agreements?

Ultimately, the court’s number one concern when it comes to deciding custody arrangements is the child’s best interests. To determine a child’s best interests, the court will consider a wide range of factors, including the following:

  • The bond the child shares with each parent
  • Whether each parent can provide the child with a safe, stable living environment
  • Whether a child would benefit socially, educationally, or financially by living with one parent over the other
  • The mental and physical health of all parties involved
  • Whether there has ever been a history of domestic violence
  • Whether one parent has a substance abuse issue
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant

Once the court determines what they believe is in a child’s best interest, a judge will make the child custody arrangement official. Custody agreements are legally binding, meaning both parents are required to abide by them, and if they fail to do so, they can face a wide range of penalties, including having custody rights revoked in the most serious cases.

If you have additional questions about child custody or you need a compassionate and skilled attorney to represent you, simply contact our firm today. We are on your side, and will be, every step of the way.

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