Family Law

Child Custody

In Re Marriage of Gambla and Woodson (Ill. App. 2006)

Judge Gilleran Johnson (majority): “The Supreme Court determined that the custody award was unconstitutional, not because the trial court considered race, but because the trial court considered solely race…. Volumes of cases from other jurisdictions have interpreted Palsmore as not prohibiting the consideration of race in matters of child custody…. In this case, Kira’s racial status did play a role in the trial court’s decision to award custody to Kimberly. However, contrary to the dissent’s contention, it was not the sole factor.”

Judge Robert McLaren (dissenting): “Despite this court’s weak protest to the contrary, the remarks in the trial court’s letter of opinion show that the court’s decision for custody improperly hinged on the sole factor of race: that only an African-American person can properly raise a biracial child in this society. An award of custody based solely on race is impermissible, as an improper exercise of a trial court’s discretion. The United States Supreme Court has also specifically rejected the consideration of racial biases, or the effects of racial prejudice and classifications, in child custody matters as a violation of the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution. Thus, the trial court here erroneously used race as its basis for awarding custody.”


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