In family law cases, the best interest of the child is the court’s highest priority. The Iowa District Court and Illinois Circuit Court judges who handle custody and divorce cases are required by law to follow that standard. This article discusses the best interests of the child as applied by the courts.
In a case where a child’s custody and/or physical placement are being determined by a court, the court will apply the “best interest” standard to determine what to Order. The goal of the best interest standard is, as the name suggests, to do what is in the best interests of the child. That can be different from what one (or both) parents may want, or what the child wants.
Each state has slightly different language and factors that its courts are directed to use when making a “best interests of the child” determination. This article addresses the child custody factors used by Illinois courts and this article addresses the child custody factors used by Iowa courts. The differences between Illinois and Iowa best interest determinations are not tremendous, although they are not identical. As an example, domestic violence in Iowa creates a stronger presumption in favor of the abuser not having custody than is the case when there is domestic violence in Illinois. There are also slight differences in the standards under which the Iowa and Illinois courts will award shared care.
When it comes to determining the best interests of a child, there are numerous factors that are at issue in every case. Properly presenting the evidence of those facts so as to help the court see the situation is vital, and for that reason any person facing a custody case is well advised to seek an attorney and work closely with that attorney throughout their case.