Do Courts Consider a Child’s Preference in Custody Determinations?

child outside

When you are trying to find the best custody arrangement for your children after a divorce, many factors have to be considered by the court before a final deal can be struck and approved. One factor that can affect the proceedings is the child’s preference, but it’s important to know that this is far from the only thing that matters. A Tazewell County child custody lawyer from our firm can help you argue for a more favorable deal using any evidence that we have, including testimony from one or more of your kids.

When Can a Child’s Preference Affect Custody Arrangements?

A child’s preference can be relevant during child custody arguments. Illinois does not have a specific age for when a child can express their opinion and make their wishes known, but usually older and more mature children are taken more seriously. There is a risk with young children that they can be manipulated or coerced into giving particular answers, so their opinions do not often move the needle too much.

If a child is old enough, their opinion can matter to the judge. However, the child’s preference is not the only factor here, and why they prefer one parent over another is going to be examined before any decisions are made.

Do the Reasons for a Child’s Preference Matter?

The reasons for a child’s preference can make a big difference here. If they have a good reason for choosing one parent over another, that can be factored into the equation. If the reason for their preference is a silly one, then their opinion may not be heeded.

So if a child prefers their mother’s home because they get their own room and it’s closer to the homes of their friends, that seems valid. These things can be good for their health and overall mental welfare. However, if their reason for choosing mom is that she doesn’t set a bedtime or limit their candy consumption, the child’s preference is probably not going to have as much weight.

What Other Factors Are Considered When Deciding On Child Custody Matters?

A variety of other factors also have to be considered before custody arrangements are made. The court wants to find an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. That means looking at elements like:

  • The health of each parent
  • The stability of each household
  • The parents’ ability to cooperate and co-parent
  • How good the parents have been at sharing time in the past

The child’s preference can matter, but it’s unlikely to outweigh all of these other factors and be the only thing that matters.

Contact Our Family Lawyers

Do not try to negotiate a child custody arrangement on your own. Contact Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C. to schedule a consultation and learn more about how our attorneys can assist you.

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