This case went to the Illinois Supreme Court. Mom assumed that the child was hers and the man she soon married (Jason). Jason signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. Jason also signed the birth certificate. Some years later, mom and Jason divorced. Mom had sole custody. Jason had rights of visitation. Jason paid child support.
During the year before the child had been born, Mom had an affair with Steve. Jason did not know about this affair. Steve saw a picture of the child on mom’s social media page. Steve called mom and asked that they take DNA tests. The result of the tests was that Steve was the dad. Steve wanted visitation with the child.
The trial court said that Statute 602 was the property rule to use for visitation. This statute lists the factors to consider in determining the best interests of the child. The court said that Statute 607(a) was not the property rule to use. 607(a) states that the parent who does not have custody (Steve) has certain rights. It says that mom would have to prove that the child was in danger from seeing the real dad (Steve). Otherwise, dad (Steve) would get visitation.
The Appellate Court said that Statute 607(a) was the property rule to follow. The Supreme Court sided with the original trial court result. Yes, it is in the child’s best interest to promote a parent-child relationship with the real dad. However, you had to also consider the now seven-year old child’s actions and behavior. You had to consider the opinion of the attorney appointed for the child and the expert. They said that there was an increased risk of harm to the child at this stage in her life. Visitation at this time with the real dad (Steve) was simply not good for the child.
The court said that the child did not have the abstract reasoning skills at her age. She did not understand Steve’s relationship to her. She did not understand how Jason was not her “biological” father. That the information could seriously impact her relationship with her mother.
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