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For more information about divorce in Illinois, see our Illinois Divorce and Family Law page.
For all of our articles on custody issues, see Child Custody.
If the children appear to be well-adjusted and the custody situation is working, a court will be more inclined to leave well enough alone.
The reason repeatedly given is "the importance of maintaining stability and continuity in a young child's environment." If all other things appear equal between the parents, maintaining the children's stability is often stated as the dispositive factor.
Of course, a child's preference may not always accord with his or her best interests, and the court must use its own wisdom and common sense in making a custody award.
However, the statute expressly says that the court should not consider a parent's conduct unless it affects that parent's relationship with the child.
These are factors to be considered by the court in deciding the best interests of the child.
For example, if a parent has a significant, long-standing, and pervasive history of bizarre behavior and ideas not merely related to the stress of the divorce, and these would have an adverse effect on the children and the parent's ability to care for them, a court may appropriately decide that the children's best interests are served by granting custody to the other parent.
(Illinois law defines abuse as physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation; the law expressly states that a parent's "reasonable direction" of a minor child does not constitute abuse.) However, the law doesn't require a court to deny a parent custody based on this ground alone.
It will depend on how the judge weighs all of the facts.