Legal Memorandum: Reviewing a lower court’s determination of child custody

Issue: Under Illinois law, what is the standard of review of a lower court’s determination of custody?

Area of Law: Family Law, Litigation Practice & Procedure, Litigation Practice and Procedure
Keywords: ; Standard of Review; Child Custody; Best Interest; Manifest Weight
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2016

The standard of review is well settled. Decisions concerning child custody are dictated by the evidence concerning the child’s best interest. The trial court is in a superior position to examine that evidence and determine the child’s best interest, and we will not alter its child-custody decision unless it was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. In re Parentage of J.W., 2013 IL 114817, ¶ 55. A judgment is against the manifest weight of the evidence only when the opposite conclusion is clearly apparent or if the court’s decision was not based on the evidence presented. Id. In other words, "if the evidence before the trial court did not clearly favor either party, this court cannot say that the trial court’s decision to place permanent custody of [a child] with one of the parents was against the manifest weight of the evidence." In re Marriage of D.T.W. & S.L.W., 2011 IL App. (1st) 111225, ¶ 82.

As an initial matter, we reject attempts to compare any one case to other published decisions. Such arguments from analogy are misplaced and unhelpful "[i]n light of the subtleties presented by child custody cases and the sui generis nature of cases involving parental rights generally ***." In re Scarlett Z.-D., 2014 IL App. (2d) 120266-B, ¶ 65. Thus, we review the evidence in the instant case and only that case.

In re Custody of Cooper H, No. 2-15-0916 2016.IL.0000226 (Ill. Ct. App. Feb. 8, 2016) (VersusLaw).


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)