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How the law determines what is in your child's best interests

As you approach negotiations with your former partner to determine how you will divide your parental responsibilities, you may worry that some arbitrary formula will be applied, and you will not get to spend enough time with your child in the future. At Diaz Case Law, we often work with parents to come up with reasonable and healthy parenting arrangements based on the best interests of the children.

But what is a child's best interests? According to Illinois state law, when determining how to allocate parental responsibilities, a number of standard questions are asked to identify the unique elements of your case. 

  • Are there any safety factors such as domestic violence, mental health issues, a criminal conviction or substance abuse present in either home?
  • What do each of the parents want?
  • What does the child want?
  • What is the child's relationship with each parent?
  • How far is it between the parents' homes?
  • How will arrangements affect the child's home life and social and educational circumstances?

If a judge is deciding your case, he or she will also want to know how involved you and the other parent are in caretaking responsibilities and relationship-building interactions with your child. You should also do your best to support your child's relationship with the other parent. Ultimately, the courts consider it in your child's best interests to have a healthy bond with both parents. So, if you bad-mouth your ex or appear hostile toward him or her, it could count against you. 

If you and your former partner are able to come up with your own plan based on these factors, the judge is likely to approve it rather than evaluating the circumstances in court. Therefore, it is in your best interests to do what you can to work with your child's other parent at the negotiation table. You can find more information about parenting arrangements on our webpage.

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