Child Custody: Splitting Siblings
When a couple decides to get divorced, it can be particularly hard on any children involved. This is true even when a divorce is amicable and parents put the interests of their children first. Most times, children are kept together when it comes to child custody determinations. However, under certain circumstances, there may be reasons why it is desirable to have siblings split between the parents.
Courts usually believe that it is in the best interests of children to keep siblings together and that the loss of living with one parent is already difficult enough. Therefore, the preservation of the sibling relationship is important. However, there are situations in which splitting up siblings may be acceptable and include the following scenarios:
- Siblings are not able to get along, to the point that they are abusive or combative towards each other;
- One (or all) siblings are experiencing serious mental health issues;
- Siblings behave in a way when they are together that makes it very difficult to care for them;
- One sibling functions better with one parent and the other sibling functions better with the other parent; or
- One child is considerably older and expresses a desire to reside with a specific parent.
The court may be more willing to separate siblings when one of the children is a lot older. To begin with, the desires of older children are generally given more weight than younger children. Under Illinois law, in determining the best interests of the child for custody purposes, the court considers the wishes of the child while taking into account the child's level of maturity and ability to express a preference as to which parent with which he or she would like to live.
Some of the reasons why an older child may wish to be separated from his or her sibling include wanting to remain in the same school through graduation or wanting to live with a parent of the same sex. Generally speaking, courts place considerable weight on an older child's wishes to reside with a particular parent, as long as that parent can provide a suitable home and it's in the child's best interest.
When siblings are separated, there are visitation issues to resolve. It is considered important for children to spend time with their siblings as well as with both of their parents. A potential visitation plan is for the parents to alternate weekends with all of the children. However, some of the same considerations related to separating siblings also apply to visitation. For example, if siblings are combative towards one another, having them together for visitation may not be in their best interests.
Family Law Help
Child custody is one of the most important issues that must be resolved when couples get divorced. As a result, having the assistance of an experienced attorney is greatly beneficial. For more information related to divorce, please contact a skilled Illinois family law attorney at 630-665-7300 today. MKFM Law provides compassionate legal help and we look forward to hearing from you.