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How courts determine the best interest of the child

Whether a child custody case is heard in Illinois or any other state, the best interest of the child will be a court's top concern. There are many factors that a judge may use when determining what best serves the child in a given matter. In many cases, a ruling will take into consideration the child's age and the ability of a parent to provide a stable home.

Generally speaking, a court will want to make a ruling that provides consistency for a child. This means keeping a child in the same school district or close to extended family members that he or she has a close relationship with. If a child's routine has to be changed, a judge will consider the possible impact before making a ruling. Typically, allowing both parents to have access to a child is considered to be in that child's best interest.

Even if a parent is granted sole custody, the other parent is generally allowed to have visitation rights. If a parent wants to relocate, a judge will have to consider whether the request is being made to limit the other parent's access to the child. A judge will also need to be convinced that the benefits of pursuing a job opportunity or moving to a better school district outweigh any potential drawbacks.

When a marriage comes to an end, parents still have a responsibility to raise their children together. However, creating a parenting plan may be one of the toughest parts of a divorce. Ideally, parents will work together to create a solution that is in the child's best interest both now and in the future. An attorney may be able to prepare a parent for a child custody hearing or review any agreement made through mediation.

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