D-Wade’s Custody Battle

The Heat just won the NBA Finals and while everyone’s focus is squarely on King James and his first title, the victory may be bittersweet for Dwyane Wade as he is still dealing with custody issues stemming from his contentious divorce from his ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade.

Wade was originally granted sole custody of the couple’s two children while the court awarded “regular parenting time” on alternating weekends in Miami, as well as several other times during the year, including Mother’s Day to Funches-Wade.

Here is an overview of how courts decide who will be granted custody of children during a divorce. Different states use different methods of how to decide custody but the Best Interest Standard is typically used in making these decisions. This means the court will make a decision in accordance with the best interest of the child. However, what’s in the best interest of the child is not always easy to determine.  The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act § 402 provides general guidelines that courts should take into account when making custody decisions. Those factors include:

  • the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to his custody;
  • the wishes of the child as to his custodian (depending on child’s age);
  • the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • the child’s adjustment to his home, school, and community; and
  • the mental and physical health of all individuals involved

The court will also likely take into account whether either of the parent’s is prone to physical violence against the children.

In this case,  Funches-Wade’s many blunders, including her failure to appear in court for a divorce hearing in May 2012, which was likely a factor in the court’s decision to grant sole custody to Wade.

When one parent is granted sole custody, the non-custodial parent is generally given “reasonable visitation” rights. However those rights may be revoked in a situation where the parent abuses them. According to Illinois State Code, visitation abuse occurs when a party has willfully and without justification:

  • denied another party visitation as set forth by the court;
  • or exercised his or her visitation rights in a manner that is harmful to the child or child’s custodian.

Funches-Wade was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted child abduction, two counts of unlawful visitation interference and one count of resisting arrest. It seems clear that she abused her visitation rights by not allowing Wade’s sister to pick the children up at the agreed time so they can be with their father on Father’s Day.  The court will likely revoke visitation rights from Funches-Wade at least for the time being, based on those actions.

Although Wade insists that these issues have not adversely affected him on the court, his inconsistent performance in this years NBA Playoffs is likely due in part to his off-the-(basketball)court issues.

However, the worst of it all is how this might be affecting Wade’s children. No matter how outrageous people feel Funches-Wade’s behavior has been throughout their divorce and custody battle, it cannot be enjoyable for a 10 year old and 4 year old to watch their mother taken away in handcuffs.

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About Rajiv Radia

Rajiv is a third year law student at American University - Washington College of Law in Washington DC and a long time sports fanatic.
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