While much has been made of NBA free agent Dwyane Wade saying his decision about where to play rests in part on what's best for his family, the custody of his two sons isn’t expected to be a deciding factor.
On Saturday, Wade told Chicago’s NBC TV affiliate: "At the end of the day, your decision goes on what's best for you and your family. I think that the organizations I've been brought in to meet with are all good organizations. And all can add something to my life, and not just basketballwise.”
For those worrying that Wade’s bolting the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls because that’s his hometown and where his two young sons are living, hold on.
Sun Sentinel Heat beat writer Ira Winderman included this in a story reported yesterday: Concerns of a potential departure, however, have increased amid speculation that family issues, notably a July 19 custody hearing in Chicago regarding his two young sons, could have Wade suiting up for the Bulls next season.
However, a party involved in the current round of negotiations said Wade has assured suitors that his domestic issues in the wake of his recent divorce would not be the overriding factor in any decision.
And Wade’s Chicago divorce attorney, James Pritikin, doesn’t sound concerned either.
Pritikin said attorneys have researched the issue of whether where Wade plays is tied to his gaining sole custody of his two sons. Wade’s divorce was finalized last month in Chicago.
“While it is an issue, it’s one we’ve researched and don’t think it will be a major issue for us to deal with,” Pritikin said. “One of the main reasons is Mr. and Mrs. Wade were living in Pinecrest [near Miami] and after the divorce was filed, Mrs. Wade moved [the children] to the state of Illinois.”
In Illinois, Pritikin said, the parent granted sole custody can move children with permission of the courts.
Asked what might occur if Wade isn’t granted sole custody, Pritkin said, “I don’t contemplate that happening.”
While Illinois law wouldn’t prevent Wade from moving his sons to Florida, if he’s granted sole custody, “He can’t just go,” said Sarane Siewerth, who heads the appeals and research department at Chicago family law firm Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, which is not handling Wade’s case.
“Illinois has a pretty rigid removal statute that makes the party who wants to remove the children from Illinois to any other place have the burden to prove that move is in the best interest of the child,” Siewerth said.
The primary custodian would need to prove that in a court hearing, she said. If Wade is granted joint custody, he’d also have to explain in court any reason for moving the children out of state, she said.
Courts in Illinois consider 11 factors when determining who gains custody of a child, including the child’s connection to his school and community, the child’s wishes, and which parent “is more likely to foster the relationship of the child with the other parent,” Siewerth said.
And if Wade were granted sole custody, his ex-wife Siohvaughn, would get visitation, which varies but typically includes every other weekend and one evening during the week, Siewerth said. “Long range truckers, for example, who are gone for two or three days at a time, the other parent might have the child for that period of time,” Siewerth said. “That would sort of be similar to what might be applicable to Dwyane Wade.”