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How do children's wishes affect child custody?

Illinois parents who have gone through a divorce might find that the child involved might want to live with the non-custodial parent. While this is not an issue if the parents negotiate an agreement outside of court and are both comfortable with the move, if there is a custody order, a child's wishes might not be enough to change it.

In child custody matters, the court will always place its primary emphasis on the child's best interest. This means that even if the court considers the child's wishes, the court must first determine certain things. For example, the child's age and maturity level will be examined to see if the child is able to make this decision. In the case of adolescents, the court might have to evaluate if the teen genuinely wants to live with the non-custodial parent or if the teen is perhaps looking to move in with the parent perceived as more lenient.

Another issue that the court might look into when younger children express a wish to live with the non-custodial parent is if there has been custodial interference by that parent. If non-custodial parents have used their time with their children to try to convince them that they should prefer to live with them, the court might frown upon this, particularly if there are certain incentives attached to the desire for the move.

Illinois parents who are ending their marriage might benefit from the guidance family law attorneys might provide in negotiating custody and visitation. Parents might be happier with the outcome of a settlement than with a judge's decision.

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