How Does A Court Determine the Primary Custodial Parent?

Whether you are planning a divorce or are unmarried and want to have custody of your children, you must understand how the court determines the primary custodial parent. The court will consider many factors to determine what is in the child’s best interests before awarding primary custody. If you have questions after reading this post, please speak to our experienced Chicago child custody lawyers at Gordon & Perlut, LLC, by calling (312) 360-0250.

Factors That Determine Primary Custody In Illinois

The court always considers the best interests of the child when deciding which parent will have the majority of parental responsibilities and parenting time. They include:

  • The wishes of the child, according to their maturity and ability to communicate their preferences
  • The ability of each parent to make decisions regarding the child’s best interests
  • The mental and physical health of the parents and child
  • How well the child is adjusting to their home and community
  • To what degree the parents can communicate and cooperate for their child’s benefit
  • The needs of the child and wishes of the parents
  • The role of each parent in making essential family decisions regarding the child
  • The child’s needs
  • How far the parents live from each other, and what the costs are of transporting the child

How Old Does The Child Need To Be To Declare A Parental Preference?

There is no exact age when a child in Illinois gets to “decide” which parent will have primary custody and the majority of parental responsibilities. However, the older and more mature the child is, the more likely the court will consider their point of view. For instance, if the child is 16 and mentally competent and mature, it may be less likely that the court will order something that differs substantially from what the child wants.

How Is Child Custody Decided If The Parents Are Unmarried?

Illinois child custody laws provide the mother with the right to make the decisions about the child’s upbringing and have sole custody until the father proves paternity. The mother can show the parent-child relationship by demonstrating that they gave birth to him or her. On the other hand, the father will need to file a paternity action.

To prove paternity, the father may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This is a form that the parents can sign when the child is born. Or, the father can ask for genetic testing to prove that he is the biological father. After establishing the parent-child relationship, an unmarried parent may petition for child custody as married parents would.

Contact Our Chicago Child Custody Lawyers For Legal Assistance

The Chicago child custody lawyers at Gordon & Perlut, LLC, understand that child custody is one of a divorce’s most challenging and emotional aspects. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires the family court to determine how parental responsibilities will be allocated per the child’s best interests. If you have questions about sole custody and allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois, contact our Chicago child custody attorneys today at (312) 360-0250.