Parents in Illinois need to make many decisions for their children as they raise them. Some are just day-to-day decisions about what they may eat or wear to school. Others are much more important. These include decisions about their health care, what schools they will attend, what religion they will practice and other major decisions. These are the types of decisions that can shape their lives.
Both parents during a marriage may give input and will have discussions about these matters. This can be easier when they are living in the same house. However, if they go through a divorce as they separate their lives these discussions may not be as easy. They will need to make determinations about which parent will be responsible for the decision making or whether they will continue to share those responsibilities.
Factors used to determine decision-making responsibilities
When determining which parent should be responsible for the decision making, the courts are guided by what is in the best interests of the children. To determine this, they will analyze a number of factors, which include, but are not limited to:
- If the children are old enough and mature enough, the wishes of the children
- The children’s needs and establishment in their current schools and community
- The physical and mental health of the parents and the children
- Each parent’s level of participation in the decision-making during the marriage
- Any prior agreements of the parents and their ability to cooperate in the decision-making process
- The wishes of the parents
- The willingness of the parents to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent
- The distance between the parent’s homes
- Whether there has been physical violence or abuse in the home
- Any other relevant factors to help determine the best interests of the children
Raising children is not easy for married parents and it can be even more difficult if the parents divorce. There is a reason for divorce and parents do not see eye to eye on every issue. However, decisions need to continue to be made for children, regardless of the parents’ relationship, and those decisions need to be in the best interest of the children. Experienced attorneys understand the factors used to determine decision-making responsibilities and may be able to guide one through the process.