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Do Illinois Children Have a Say in Their Custody Cases?

 Posted on August 31, 2022 in Family Law

Kane County Family Law AttorneyIf you are a parent involved in an ongoing legal battle over parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities, you may be wondering whether your child will have any say in the matter. Since Illinois courts are required to decide all child custody issues in favor of the child’s best interests, it would only seem natural that the wants and needs a child expresses would be important. However, children are not always the best at recognizing their own self-interest. This is what parents are for–deciding what is best for the child and doing it. While a child’s expressed wishes are relevant to a court’s custody decision, parenting time arrangements are never left up to the child. If you are fighting for custody of your child, it is important to have an attorney who understands the court’s decision-making process. 

How Are a Child’s Wishes Factored into the Court’s Decision?

Illinois courts use a list of factors to help them determine what course of action is in the best interests of the child. Other factors include things like the mental and physical health of all parties, and how well the child is adjusted to their current school and community. One of those factors is the expressed wishes of the child. However, the court will also consider the age, maturity, and capacity to make responsible decisions. 

As a parent, you are likely aware that young children in particular are easy to manipulate. Parents may try tactics from bribing a preschool-aged child with ice cream to badmouthing the other parent to a middle schooler in order to manipulate the child. A child who has been bribed or influenced may tell the court that they wish to remain with the manipulator-parent, but courts can take these words with a grain of salt. 

Another issue is that children, even older teenagers, may not be able to understand what is truly in their best interest. A high school-aged child may favor the parent who allows them to drink beer and have their boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night. This does not mean that living with that parent is actually best for that child. In fact, that child would likely be safer and better off with the parent who does not permit these risky behaviors. 

If you are afraid that the other parent is manipulating or coaching your child, it is important to let your lawyer know so they can prepare a strong counterargument. 

Call a Kane County Child Custody Lawyer

Serrano Hanson is committed to protecting the best interests of children during divorce or custody proceedings. Our experienced Geneva child custody attorneys will fight to get you the most possible parenting time with your child. Call 630-844-8781 for a consultation. 




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