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How the Best Interests of a Child is Determined in Divorce and Family Law Cases

 Posted on October 05, 2016 in Children

Wheaton family law attorneysDecisions regarding children in divorce and other child-related family law cases are typically based upon the best interests of the child. What exactly does this mean, though? Who gets to decide? More importantly, where do the best interests of the child and the rights of intersect? If you are facing a child-related matter, the following information can better help you understand the best interests of children, how they are decided, and what it may mean for you in the long-term.

Defining the Best Interests of Children

Although parents are, for the most part, the best source for determining what the best interests of their children are, there are circumstances in which they cannot agree on the details of their parenting plan, specifically the allocation of parental responsibilities and each parent's allotment of parenting time. In these situations, the best interests of the child will be decided by a judge. Several factors are used to help them in drawing their conclusion, including:

  • How much each parent participated in the making of important child-related decisions;
  • Distance between each parent's place of residence, as well as any other factors that might hinder transportation of the child (i.e. income, availability of transportation, etc.);
  • If any restrictions should be placed on either parent's right to make decisions about the child's life, health, or needs;
  • Any history of abuse or neglect within the family (even if the child was not the victim);
  • Specific needs of the child (i.e. physical, emotional, health-related, education, etc.) and each parent's access to resources to ensure those needs are met;
  • Each parent's willingness to foster and encourage a health and continued relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • Any prior agreements that parents may have made regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and/or parenting time; and
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant.

Where the Child's Best Interests and Parental Rights Intersect

While parents ultimately have the right to make decisions about and spend time with their child, these rights are not superior to the best interests of the child. In fact, one could argue that the courts tend to place the child's best interests above that of the parent's rights. If, for example, the parent has a history of abuse or neglect and could potentially bring harm to the child, the courts may seek to protect the child by either restricting some of the parent's rights (i.e. requiring that visits be supervised) or possibly even denying them rights altogether.

Of course, a safe, healthy, and close relationship with both parents is usually considered ideal. So, in most instances, each parent is granted a certain amount of rights. The rulings as to how much or how little do vary, of course, which is why parents should discuss any concerns they have about their rights, or the rights of their child, with an experienced family law attorney.

Contact Our Wheaton, Illinois Family Law Attorneys Today

With more than 40 years of experience and a dedication to personalized representation, Stock, Carlson & Asso. LLC have the skills and knowledge needed to effectively represent you in your child-related case. We can help you develop a parenting plan that can potentially satisfy all parties in your divorce or child matter case. If necessary, we can take the matter to litigation to ensure that you and your child's rights are safeguarded. Schedule your consultation with our Wheaton, Illinois family law attorneys today to learn more. Call 630-665-2500.


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