The Law Offices of Brian A. Grady, P.C.
Attorney At Law
Itasca Bank & Trust Building
9 East Irving Park Road
Roselle, IL. 60172
Phone:(630) 351 - 4466
Fax: (630) 894 - 2528
Child or Children's Input in Custody Decisions
The court, although not compelled, may inquire as to the preference of a child concerning who shall be his or her custodian. The preference of a child, however, is not binding upon a court. Even if a child unequivocally indicated a preference for living with one parent, this preference, while entitled to consideration, would not be binding on the trial court.
The court can hear the preference of a child of any age. While the age 14 is sometimes given as a time when a child can make an intelligent preference, courts have questioned children considerably younger as well.
The court, however, will not consider a child’s wishes where it finds them to be unreliable. Courts in the past have declined to listen to a child’s preference where the evidence suggested that the child’s wishes have been “programmed” by one of the parents.
In determining custody, the judge will consider the input of a child, or children, if they find the child is mature enough to provide reasonable input. Children’s input is one of the “best interest” factors to be weighed according to the Illinois’ Act that controls custody decisions, The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) 750 ILCS 5/602(a). For information on the other factors judges consider, see the “Determination of Custody” and “Best interest factors – Further Explored” sections of this website.
How does the court determine your child, or children’s wishes?
Section 604(a) of the IMDMA states that a court may allow an in camera interview of the child (In the Judge’s private office to determine the child’s wishes) regarding their custody and visitation schedules. The court can also require the minor child testify in open court, depending on their level of maturity. The court does not use a specific age to determine the child’s maturity, in considering a child or children’s input. Rather, the Judge can ask the child for any background information they believe will be helpful in determining whether the child can make an informed decision. In the event the judge decides an In Camera Interview (in the judge’s chambers) is warranted, then you will have the right to have your attorney present during your child’s, or children’s interview. An expert attorney in this field will ensure the judge is asking the right questions, so that you can be sure that your legal rights, and the rights of your children are being protected.
This office provides expert legal advice in the field of Custody and Visitation cases and is cognizant of the issues a parent must face in establishing custody and visitation rights that the court will determine is in the child’s best interest. Further, this office will fight to ensure that your child, or children’s wishes are not ignored and also not weighed disproportionately against your own rights and wishes.
What if the other parent has fostered negative feelings in your child or children towards you?
You should contact an experienced family law attorney immediately if you believe the other parent has had a negative influence on your relationship with your child. This situation, called Parental Alienation, is now being recognized and taken into consideration by courts. For more information on this serious phenomenon see the “Parental Alienation” section of this website.