You often hear people talk about maybe 13 is the magic age, or 12 or 11 in other states. Illinois doesn’t have a magic age. It’s a sliding scale in Illinois, and as a child ages and matures and has the ability to appreciate his or her environment and to understand their circumstances that they are presented with, then that child has an increasing voice in the determination. For example, if we’ve got a three-year-old or four-year-old, that child really isn’t going to have much input at all into the decision as to where they are going to spend the majority of their time. But on the other hand, by the time a child is 17 years old, unless there is something fundamentally flawed in their reasoning, they ought to have the ability to essentially make that determination. As a child ages and matures, they have an increase in voice, and at 18 they have absolute legal right in Illinois to make that decision.
Chuck Roberts is family lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC, one of the largest law firms in DuPage County, Illinois.