What factors determine the best interests of the child?

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2023 | Divorce |

Just ask any person who has been through a divorce what their experience was like, and they’ll likely tell you it was one of the most difficult things they’ve ever gone through. Separating from a spouse is stressful for anyone. However, for parents in Illinois, a breakup can bring up some unique challenges.

If you are a parent heading for a divorce, most of your concerns likely revolve around your children. More specifically, what your child custody arrangement will look like or who will have custody of the children. If you are seeking custody, it is important to note that all courts use the best interests of the child standard to make custody decisions. But what factors go into determining the best interests of the child?

The ages of the children

Typically, the younger the children, the more hands-on care they will need. When deciding custody, courts will examine the bond between you and your children. If your children are young, judges often give precedence to the parent who has been the main caregiver. If children are older, some courts may consider the child’s wishes.

Parenting ability

When you are seeking custody, the courts must make sure that you are a suitable parent. You must be able to not only meet your child’s physical needs, but their emotional needs as well. You’ll need to prove you can provide food, shelter, clothing, education and medical care. The courts will also need to see that you can provide emotional support and overall parental guidance.

Existing routines

Children function best with a consistent routine. When making custody decisions, the court will consider how an arrangement will affect your children’s existing daily routines. Judges will look to limit big changes for the children that could negatively impact their lives.


The safety of the children is the top priority. If you are seeking custody, be prepared to prove that you will be able to keep your children safe at all times. Judges will deny custody if they believe there is a chance of you compromising the children’s safety.

Help is available

Understandably, you only want what is best for your kids. If you believe being in your custody is best for your children, be prepared to prove this in court. You can do this by showing that you are actively involved in your children’s lives and that you provide loving and attentive care. Fortunately, no parent needs to go through this experience alone. Legal guidance is readily available for any parent who is seeking child custody.