In a recent post, we began speaking about the various factors judges take into consideration when making child custody determinations in Illinois. As we noted, the most important factor is the best interests of the child, but a variety of circumstances impact what is best for children in terms of custody and parenting time arrangements.
In addition to the factors mentioned last time, it is also important to consider the presumptions of the law with respect to child custody, as these can impact how child custody decisions are made. Courts presume, for example, that a fit parent’s decisions concerning a child’s interactions with siblings, grandparents and step-parents are not harmful to the child, unless the party filing a petition for visitation can show that undue harm will result from the parent’s actions.
Two other points regarding the best interest factors are worth making. First of all, courts are prohibited from considering the conduct of a parent that has no affect on the parent’s relationship with the child. This is an important point, particularly given the fact that custody disputes can become quite accusatory with the details of a parent’s personal life. In some cases, perhaps many, such personal aspects of a parent’s life can indeed impact the well-being of a child, but in some cases, the connection is too tenuous to afford such factors any weight in a custody determination.
Another important point is that, in making custody determinations, courts do consider the terms of a parent’s military family care plan which must be completed before deployment. In our next post, we’ll look at this point in more depth.