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How Does Psychology Factor into Illinois Child Custody Decisions?

 Posted on August 27, 2020 in Child Custody

DuPage County divorce attorney child custody

Illinois divorce law states that if a couple cannot agree on the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court will make a decision based on the couple’s child’s best interests. These decision-making rights allow either one or both parents to make determinations regarding a child’s education, health (both physical and mental), and if and how religion will be incorporated into their child’s upbringing. The law continues to define what a child’s best interests are in the eyes of the court. Certain factors, including psychological issues, can play a role in making child custody decisions.

A Child’s Well-Being

The overall goal of child-related decisions in a divorce is to do what is in the child’s best interest. Some of the most significant considerations when deciding child custody in an Illinois divorce may include:

  • The wishes of the child, while factoring in his or her level of maturity

  • The child’s connection with his or her home and community

  • The mental and physical health of both parents and any other caretakers

  • The cooperativeness of both parents

  • Any occurrences of abuse (either against the child or to another member of the household)

  • The willingness of one parent to promote a healthy relationship between his or her child and the other parent

Many decisions regarding a child’s best interests are largely subjective, with little statistical evidence or scientific verification to determine whether a custody decision benefitted a child in the way it was intended. Fortunately, psychologists and attorneys have been working closely to find a more objective way of advocating for a child’s well-being.

Psychology and Child Custody Agreements

A conference hosted by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Family Law hosted a conference where 70 panelists and nearly 600 people explored the intersection of psychology and family law. Of all of the issues discussed, one of the most hotly debated topics was how to evaluate allegations of alienation. Alienation in this context refers to behaviors from one parent that damages the relationship between his or her child and the other parent. 

The term “parental alienation syndrome” is typically used carelessly to generalize cases where a child becomes alienated from a parent. However, psychologists understand that there are many different reasons that a child’s relationship with a parent might deteriorate. Sometimes, children experience this without their parents intending for it to happen. Highly contested divorces tend to create stressful environments that encourage children to avoid parenting time.

To help avoid being swayed by subjectivity and to ensure that a child’s best interests are served well, psychologists encourage themselves and attorneys to stick to the facts during court testimony to avoid reaching any distant conclusions. In many cases, psychologists can provide the methods and rationale that they used in reaching their conclusions to help build confidence in their decisions.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

Reaching a mutually agreeable decision on parenting rights during an Illinois divorce can be complicated. Everyone wants to protect a child’s best interests, but the parents involved might try to reach for conclusions that reflect their personal preferences too heavily. For legal help through this process, work with a qualified Naperville, IL child custody lawyer who has extensive experience in family law. To schedule a free consultation with Pesce Law Group, P.C., call our office today at 630-352-2240.




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