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Can race become an arguing point for custody?

It is not at all uncommon for divorced parents to argue over their ex-spouse's lifestyle and decisions. Many times, even after months of amicable, collaborative decision-making divorced parents may find new reasons to argue for a change in custody. Although the family court typically takes the best interest of the child into account first and foremost when determining custody, there are certain arguments a parent may make to the court that has little to do with their child's best interest and more to do with their own.

Controversial issues such as religion, lifestyle choices and even diet and health have been used as pivotal arguments for requesting sole custody. What one parent may believe in or be OK with, the other parent may see as inappropriate. Although the family court may consider important, supported and justified arguments, there are a few concerns that the family court is permitted from considering when determining child custody.

Since the 1980s, the United States Supreme Court ruled that race cannot be a factor considered when determining child custody. If one parent argues against joint custody on the basis of race, there is nothing that a family court legally can do. Racial stereotypes cannot and should not have any bearing on the determination of child custody.

If you are a divorced parent in a new relationship and are concerned that your ex may try to change the custody arrangements on the basis of race or other discriminatory issues, speaking to a family law attorney may help. Although the family court will not allow race to be grounds for a change in custody, they may be able to address the bigger issue of the discrimination and stereotyping that your child is subject to.

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Goddard & Malmquist

Goddard & Malmquist
1250 South Grove Avenue
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Barrington, IL 60010

Phone: 847-382-3995
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