Custody disputes don’t only arise out of divorce cases, Illinois parents may also fight for custody if their child was adopted without his or her consent. This type of case is currently playing out and the state of Oklahoma recently ordered the extradition of a Native American father to South Carolina for attempting to interfere with the custody of his daughter. His daughter was adopted by a South Carolina couple a few years ago. The man is a member of the Cherokee Nation and he was extradited after he allegedly failed to negotiate in good faith with the couple over the placement of the 3-year old girl, known as “Baby Veronica.” The child custody dispute highlights a clash between Native American cultures that do not want their children adopted away from their tribe and the legal rights of adoptive parents. The girl’s mother, who is not Native American, placed her up for adoption before she was born.. The father, who was not married to the mother, maintains that he did not realize when he gave up his parental rights and that the mother could give up the girl for adoption.
In deciding the custodial placement of a child, regardless of the case background, courts i Illinois and throughout the U.S. will typically look to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Factors considered by courts include the income levels of the spouses, as well as any alcohol or drug issues of both spouses. The court can also modify an existing child custody arrangement if it determines that it would be in the best interests of the child.
The parties in a child custody dispute have the legal right to create an arrangement between them for the custody and visitation rights of both. They have the option to set up a schedule that allows the children to spend time with both parents. Doing so may be emotionally difficult, but it allows the parties to avoid an emotionally tense child custody battle. Unfortunately, in an adoption scenario, split-parenting time may not be a possibility.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Oklahoma orders father’s extradition in Native American adoption case,” Heide Brandes, Sept. 4, 2013.