There is an unwritten belief that mothers are automatically at an advantage when disputes arise over the custody of children. For years, this belief was not far from reality, as many courts seemingly held a presumption that a mother is always the best custodian for a child. But fathers’ rights advocates, along with numerous research studies and real-life observations, have negated that belief and led courts to consider the important role that a father plays in the lives of children. When looking at the specific wording of the Illinois child custody statute, it is obvious that this unwritten belief now holds no legal ground.
What the Statute Says
The Illinois statute mandates courts to make custody decisions in line with the best interest of the child. This means that the court should examine all of the circumstances surrounding the child and determine what custody arrangement will best serve him or her. This also means that the court is prohibited from making a baseless assumption that the mother is best suited to maintain custody of the children. Some of the factors for consideration in an Illinois custody case include:
- The custody arrangement that each parent desires. If parents are able to agree on a custody arrangement that meets the best interest standard, the judge is likely to follow it;
- If the child is old enough, the custody desires of the child;
- Relationships between the child and parents, siblings, other family members or friends who significantly contribute to the well-being of the child;
- Physical and mental health of each parent, as well as the child. If the child has special needs, the court will examine which parent is best equipped to meet those needs;
- Any abuse or violent actions by each parent towards the child or the other parent; and
- Whether each parent is willing to cultivate and encourage a relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. This also extends to a willingness to maintain extended familial relationships and ties to the child’s existing community of friends.
The statute additionally mandates that the court not consider any actions that do not affect the relationship between parent and child. Furthermore, the law creates a presumption that the involvement of both parents in a child’s life is most beneficial and in line with the child’s best interests.
A Father’s Fight for Custody
Fathers often fail to adamantly fight for custody under the belief that the mother’s case is stronger. However, as expressly stated in the state statute, fathers maintain just as much right to the custody of their children as mothers. By arming yourself with this information, you can better position yourself to present a strong case for sole or joint custody of your child or children.
Contact the Law Office of Elizabeth J. Chacko, P.C. today for assistance with your custody case. Serving clients in Wheaton, Carol Stream and Lombard, our attorneys are available to assist you and your family.