What Does “In The Best Interests Of The Child” Mean?

Illinois courts primarily utilize the best interests of the child standard when deciding the allocation of parental responsibilities: decision-making (custody), parenting time (visitation) and other child-related issues. The best interests of your child are determined by deciding how to best facilitate your child’s growth and development to become the best he or she can be, despite the breakdown of your marriage or your relationship with your ex. The best interests of your child are also served by the entry of a written court order, which sets forth a specific parenting plan and parenting schedule tailored for your child.

Our attorneys are guided by the best interests of your child. The philosophy has helped our firm successfully negotiate and litigate thousands of custody cases. It applies to our commitment to unmarried couples with children as well as divorcing parents.

The emphasis in an allocation of parental responsibility (custody) determination is not on which parent is unfit, but rather is on the child’s best interests considering all relevant factors. These include:

  • The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his living arrangement
  • The wishes of the child as to his primary custodian
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to his home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • The physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s potential custodian, whether directed against the child or directed against another person
  • The occurrence of ongoing abuse as defined in Section 103 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, whether directed against the child or directed against another person
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child

Given the nature of parenting arrangements and the individuality of the parents and each family, the evidentiary aspects of each parental dispute are numerous, varied and interrelated. No one factor is dispositive; each factor must be weighed and considered in its relationship to all the others shown to exist.

Together, we can formulate parenting plans and schedules that work in the best interests of your family. Our family law lawyers have the experience, client commitment and history of success that can make a positive difference in your life and the life of your child.