As children grow, they develop a unique relationship with each of their parents. They may feel more able to confide in their father, or they may have spent more time with their mother. Divorce—and the custody arrangements that result from divorce—can have a significant impact on these relationships.
A wide variety of factors can impact the court’s custody decision, and you may wonder whether the court will consider those parental bonds. How important is your child’s preference? Can they choose which parent they want to live with?
If your child is 14 or older, the court will consider their preferences.
While a child cannot technically choose where they will live until they are an adult, children may voice an opinion in a custody battle. In Illinois, the court considers the opinion of children 14 or older when determining who will have physical custody of that child.
Custody decisions are based on a variety of different factors.
While an older child’s preference is an important factor when creating a child custody arrangement, the decision ultimately lies with the judge in each case. If the judge decides that the child’s interests are better served by another arrangement—whether that arrangement is living full-time with one parent or shared custody—then they can overrule a child’s decision.
The court’s decision can be based on a wide variety of different factors, including:
- The parents’ desires and their ability to support the child’s needs
- The child’s educational needs
- The child’s medical needs, including any additional support that they need to maintain their physical or mental health
While the court bases custody decisions on a wide variety of different factors, your child’s preference and the relationship you have built with them throughout their life can be an important part of that decision.