Custody cases can prove challenging, especially when they involve two loving parents who both want physical custody of their child or children. The consequences are particularly obvious during this time of year. School is out and children everywhere are packing their belongings to spend the summer with one parent.
A recent report in the Northwest Herald suggests that children suffer less anxiety and stress when they reside with both parents, as opposed to one parent or the other. The findings are based on a study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Research focused on 150,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15 years old, who resided in various custody arrangements. According to the report, the children residing in both of their parents’ homes exhibited less behavior indicating stress and anxiety. Researchers explained that such signs included inability to sleep, depression, loss of appetite and an overall sadness.
Though a shared physical schedule may be the optimal arrangement for the children, it can prove hard to master for the parents for multiple reasons, including:
- The parents may live a significant distance away from one another;
- The parents may not exhibit enough cooperation with one another to create and manage a joint custody arrangement;
- One parent may only want periodic visitation, instead of shared custody; and/or
- The children’s school and activity schedules may not lend themselves to a joint custody arrangement.
Child Custody in the State of Illinois
Although the Illinois courts do not work from a presumption that joint custody is best, state statute does presume that the best interest of the child is served when he or she receives maximum involvement from both parents. Illinois custody determinations are based on the best interest of the child. This means that the judge considers what arrangement is best for the child or children when making a custody decision. Though the wants and concerns of the parents are a factor in the decision-making process, the final determination comes down to the child’s best interest.
Under the best interest standard, judges consider various factors, including:
- Mental and physical health of child and parents;
- The parent’s individual opinions about custody;
- The ongoing relationships that the child has with parents, siblings and family members;
- Any physical or mental abuse towards the child or other family member;
- Willingness of each parent to cultivate and maintain a healthy relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent; and
- The stability and safety of each parent’s housing situation.
This information can prove challenging to gather and present. In certain situations, the court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to serve as an attorney for the child custody to present information to the court on their behalf. If this is happening in your custody case, it is vitally important that you cooperate with the GAL by providing open and honest responses to all questions and requests.
Make sure you have an experienced and capable lawyer representing you in your custody case. Contact an attorney at the Law Office of Elizabeth J. Chacko, P.C. today for a consultation. Serving clients in Naperville, Wheaton, and Downers Grove, our attorneys are ready to assist with all of your custody needs.