An Illinois parent faced with a custody situation or the possible termination of parental rights may wonder about the considerations that factor into the decisions regarding a child's best interests. There is not an exact standard used in making custody decisions, and factors unique to a specific case may play an important role in a judge's decisions.
Keeping the child's best interests as the focus, a judge may consider factors relating to safety, developmental needs, family ties and cultural background. Physical safety concerns include the availability of basic needs such as clothing, food and shelter. A child's attachment to loved ones may also play a role, as the security felt in a given environment directs developmental decisions. Risks related to changes in care may be considered during a child custody case. Stability with minimal disruption in a child's life is an important concern. A child's wishes may be considered as well.
The guiding principles used in determining the best interests of the child are part of the state's approach to child placement and custody cases. A parent may benefit by having effective legal representation, as a lawyer may be able to articulate concerns and show evidence regarding safety and stability in one household versus the other.
In seeking custody of one's child, it may be important to emphasize those areas that are most crucial to a child's well-being. In addition to presenting a view of one's own home environment that will indicate a nurturing and safe setting, it may also be important to articulate one's intent to support a child's relationship and emotional ties with the other parent.
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child", December 10, 2014