When parents are going through a divorce in Illinois, disagreements over child custody issues can result in a trial in which the court decides what arrangement is in the child's best interest. Under state law, the court always assumes that the maximum involvement of each parent is in the best interest of the child. This assumption will not apply, however, if there is evidence of ongoing domestic violence or abuse by either of the parents.
The wishes of each parent involved will be taken into account while the court is making a decision about a custody arrangement. If the child is old enough to communicate his or her own thoughts on the matter, the court will also consider those wishes. The mental and physical health of all of the parties involved in the matter will also be examined as will each parent's willingness to encourage bonding between the child and the other parent.
In some family law cases, a natural parent and a stepparent may become involved in a child custody dispute. When a stepparent is pursuing child custody, the court usually assumes that the natural parent having primary custody of the child is in the child's best interest. However, the stepparent may rebut this presumption.
Before a child custody hearing, a parent may want to speak with a family law attorney in order to gain an advantage in the proceedings. The determination of what in the child's best interest can often be subjective, and the attorney may be able to help the parent to gather evidence to establish the validity of their position.
Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Sec. 602. Best Interest of Child. ", November 10, 2014