call us630-584-4800

Free Consultations

Understanding the Best Interest Standard

Posted on in Adoption

parental rights, Illinois child custody law, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois law applies the best interest standard in civil matters involving children. Divorce proceedings, child custody battles, adoptions and visitation hearings are all examples of matters where a court must consider what is in the best interests of the child. These best interests include maximizing the child’s physical, mental, moral and emotional well-being.

It is difficult to define the best interest standard precisely, because as any parent knows, what is best for one child might not be what is best for another. However, the law sets forth relevant factors for courts to consider. That list is meant to be a starting point. Courts may consider all relevant factors and not merely those delineated here:

  • The child’s wishes regarding custody, adoption, and visitation rights, if the child is old enough and has the mental capacity to express such wishes;
  • The parent’s (or prospective parent’s) wishes regarding custody, adoption and visitation rights;
  • The relationship between the child and his parents, siblings and any other relevant person, such as a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • How well-adjusted the child is to his current home, school and community (if the court is considering an arrangement that would uproot the child);
  • The mental and physical health of all persons involved;
  • Whether there is a pattern or history of domestic abuse in the child’s current or potential home;
  • How willing both parents are to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent (especially with the parent who does not have primary custody);
  • Whether one of the parents is a sex offender; and
  • Whether one of the parents is a member of the military.

Note: One important aspect of the best interest standard is that courts typically presume that is in the child’s best interests for both parents to be involved. However, in a custody proceeding, there is also no presumption in favor of – or against – joint custody.

Once a court is involved, it is typically not for the parents to decide what is in their child’s best interests. Rather, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL), who will advocate on behalf of the child. The GAL will conduct an investigation and report his findings to the court. Here are two examples of what the GAL might investigate:

  • In a custody proceeding, the GAL will investigate the backgrounds of both parents to ensure that the child is placed in a secure home; and
  • In a hearing to determine visitation rights, the GAL will also conduct background checks on anyone requesting time with the child. That information will determine who gets visitation, when and for how long, and where.
Our experienced St. Charles family law attorneys are committed to serving the best interests of your – and every – child. If you are filing for divorce, petitioning for custody or visitation of a child, or are involved in any civil matter where the best
Back to Top