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equitable adoption, Palatine Family Law AttorneyThe Illinois Supreme Court's recent decision in In re Parentage of Scarlett Z.-D addressed the sensitive issue of a non-parent’s rights during a custody proceeding. The plaintiff in the case presented a unique argument, claiming that the doctrine of equitable adoption, which had previously only been applied to probate proceedings, also governed custody cases. Ultimately, the Court disagreed, holding that the doctrine could not be extended to custody disputes.

Facts

In 2003, a Slovakian national and American immigrant, Maria, returned home on a trip to visit her extended family. During the visit, Maria and her fiancé Jim decided to adopt a young orphaned girl, Scarlett, whom they had encountered on the trip, despite the fact that under Slovakian law, Jim was not permitted to legally adopt the child.

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child custody in Illinois, children of divorce, child’s preference Illinois custody, Illinois custody cases, Palatine child custody attorneyOne of the most difficult aspects of divorce is dealing with child custody. The possibility of having to relocate or switch schools, in addition to spending less time with both parents, can leave a child feeling stressed, anxious and opinionated about the parent with whom he or she wants to live. However, when making an award of child custody or visitation, the Court must consider the child’s best interests. Additionally, there are a number of factors the Court must weigh. One factor is a child’s preference, pending the Court determines that the child has “sufficient maturity to express a preference.”

Best Interests and Child Preference in Illinois Custody Awards

Unlike some states, Illinois does not have a definite age at which a Judge must consider a child’s preference. Therefore, a Judge has wide discretion in determining whether or not to give any weight to a child’s preference, or even if a child will be allowed to express a preference.

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