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How Can I Trust a Judge to Discern My Child’s Best Interests?

Posted on in Family Law

Lombard divorce lawyerA divorce is often a time of serious contention between parents of underage children. Despite the parents’ history of disagreements and distrust, they must find a way to work together to co-parent their children after the divorce. Sometimes, parents can do this. Other times, it is simply not possible.

When parents cannot cooperate and negotiate a parenting plan themselves, a judge will intervene and make decisions for them. Parents may be understandably wary that a judge, who has no previous history with the family and is encountering each parent’s narrative for the first time, will be able to make decisions that are truly in a child’s best interests. In situations like this, it is important to understand the criteria Illinois judges are required to use as they collect information about families and try to determine an optimal outcome.

Does a Judge Have Full Discretion in Custody Cases?

If parents cannot create a parenting plan and the matter comes before a judge, the judge is the person with final say over the outcome of the case. Whether parents agree with a judge’s decisions or not, court-ordered parenting plans are legally binding. Unless a parent believes a judge misapplied the law or seriously misunderstood the facts, a decision cannot be appealed.

However, a judge cannot simply look at a case, throw standards to the wind, and order a child to and fro with the bang of a gavel. The law requires judges to take certain factors into account as they determine an arrangement that will be in a child’s best interests. These include:

  • Whether a guardian ad litem or custody evaluator has investigated the case and made a recommendation
  • Evidence of abuse or neglect towards either the parent or the child
  • Each parent’s preferred outcome and the reasons for it
  • The child’s preferred outcome, if age appropriate, and the reasons for it
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s relationship with his or her siblings, and where those siblings will be located
  • Each parent’s mental, physical, emotional, and financial health
  • The child’s mental, physical, and emotional health
  • Whether it would disrupt the child’s life to move to a different school and community
  • The child’s daily needs
  • Whether the parents live close enough together to make frequent parenting swaps feasible
  • Whether the parents’ relationship is so hostile that the child would benefit from minimal parental contact

If it sounds like a lot to take into consideration, it is. Judges want to know the full picture of a family’s circumstances before making a decision, which can take time. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is important to be patient and let the process play out. An attorney can help you present evidence that supports your preferred outcome and advocate for your parental rights.

Contact an Experienced Team of Naperville, IL Divorce Attorneys

At Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, we have worked with many families going through the pains of divorce. We understand how important it is to protect your children and to advocate for your relationship with them. If you are getting divorced and are worried that a judge may need to intervene and make decisions in your case, get help from the Lombard, IL divorce attorneys with Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices. We will use our considerable experience to your advantage and help you protect your relationship with your loved ones with a sound parenting plan. Call our offices today at 630-932-9100.

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