Legal Information: Illinois

Custody

Updated: 
September 19, 2017

What factors will a judge consider when allocating decision-making responsibilities (custody)?

A judge will make a decision about allocation of significant decision-making responsibilities (custody) based on what s/he thinks is in your child’s best interest.*  The judge will look at any factor that s/he thinks is important to make this decision, including:

  • the wishes of the parents;
  • the child’s wishes, taking into account the child's maturity and ability to express his/her own preference as to decision-making responsibilities;
  • the child’s adjustment to his/her home, school and community;
  • the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  • the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision-making;
  • the level of each parent's participation in past significant decision-making with respect to the child;
  • any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision-making with respect to the child;
  • the child's needs;
  • the ability of the parents to cooperate in an arrangement made, taking into account the distance between the parents' homes, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child between homes, and the daily schedule of each parent and the child;  
  • whether a "restriction" (as defined by law) on decision-making responsibilities is appropriate; 
  • the willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • any physical violence or threat of physical violence by either parent against the child;
  • any acts of abuse against the child or a member of the child's household;
  • whether or not either of the parents is a convicted sex offender, considering the exact nature of the offense and what treatment the offender has successfully participated in; and
  • any other factor that the judge finds to be relevant.** 

The judge cannot consider conduct of a parent that does not affect that parent's relationship to the child.*** 

* 750 ILCS 5/602.5(a)
** 750 ILCS 5/602.5(c)
*** 750 ILCS 5/602.5(e)