In our previous blog post, we focused primarily on what are considered the best interests of the child in child custody cases. The “best interests of the child standard” by which courts in Illinois make child custody determinations has been in the news in Illinois for the last few years due to fathers’ rights advocacy groups and other organizations that have been supporting new Illinois “shared parenting” bills.
Proposed Changes to Illinois Law
In 2017, HB4113 was filed with the Illinois General Assembly. This bill sought to change Illinois family laws to state that 50/50 shared parenting is presumed to be in the best interests of the child from the start of a child custody case. After much controversy and protest, that bill was not passed. However, in February 2109, State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) sponsored a new equal parenting time bill: HB185. While many advocacy groups believe this new iteration will be a fair change to the law, other legal professionals are less optimistic. In fact, the Illinois State Bar Association is in opposition to the bill.
More than four decades ago, Professor Leigh H. Taylor published an article in the DePaul Law Review (Volume 24, Issue 2, Winter 1975, Article 14), concluding that “Uncertainty can be removed and the best interest of children can be made more ascertainable only when the courts attempt to identify the interests involved and provide comprehensively reasoned opinions. Then it can be said that they are furthering the best interest of children.” In a sense, HB185 is a continuation of this thought. According to some lawmakers and advocates, this equal parenting bill would presume that both partners should have equal parenting time from the start, and only after the judge provides a comprehensive explanation with substantial, deliberative reasoning will the parents be able to deviate from that 50/50 allocation of parenting time.
Those who oppose the bill fear that starting with 50/50 parenting time as the initial presumption will embolden those parents who have committed domestic violence, putting children in danger. In addition, they worry this will set a new standard that will be harder on children psychologically. Children may be forced into uncomfortable departures from their usual routines in terms of living situations and day-to-day life if they will be spending equal time with both parents.
Another concern of the opposition is that both parents are not always willing and proactive in pursuing equal parenting time. For many, being forced into this from the start will create greater conflict, taking away from the main purpose of any child custody case: protecting the best interests of the child. In many custody cases, parents are not very cooperative with each other, making equal parenting time difficult to attain and less common. Opponents argue that codifying this already challenging aspect of child custody cases into law will complicate matters too much and exacerbate issues between the parents.
Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney
To ensure that you are up to date with the laws that affect your child custody case, you need to work with a law firm that knows Illinois law and stays abreast of the latest changes. Our knowledgeable Wheaton child custody lawyers can help you understand your rights and legal options throughout your divorce or child custody case. Give Andrew Cores Family Law Group a call now at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation.