The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. It will consider all relevant factors, including: the wishes of the child's parents as to his custody; the wishes of the child as to his custodian; the interaction and relationship the child has with each of his parents; the child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community; the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; any occurrences of abuse; and the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
Courts are no longer reluctant to grant custody to fathers. Courts have recently held that they cannot recognize a presumption in favor of the mother in a contest for custody of the children. In situations where the father could provide a more stable environment for the children, custody should be awarded to him. Allegations of acts of adultery are one relevant factor in determining the fitness of a particular parent to the custody of the children. A trial court must look at the evidence taken as a whole and to the factors listed above to determine who should be awarded custody of the children. A custody award is within the full discretion of the trial court.
Jeffrey W. Brend is a CPA and family-law attorney practicing with Chicago law firm Levin & Brend, P.C. He is the only person in the country affiliated with both the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the American Society of Appraisers. He can be reached at (312) 726-4440. View his Divorce Magazine profile.