Are you in the process of getting divorced in Chicago and thinking about child custody issues? For many parents in the Chicago area who are considering divorce, the changes to Illinois law concerning parental responsibilities and parenting time at first may not seem as though they will result in significant practical changes. However, one of the underlying emphases of the shift in child custody law is that both parents should be spending time in the role of parent. In other words, under the revised law, courts are seeking to ensure that both parents take an active role in the caretaking functions of the child, and as such that the parents share in their parenting time responsibilities. This is, of course, if parenting time with both parents is in the child’s best interest.
Yet as a recent article in NPR Illinois explains, there are now additional suggested modifications to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that would begin with an assumption that parents have 50-50 parenting time. Many commentators are concerned about whether equal parenting time is actually beneficial in most cases.
The proposed IMDMA changes to 50-50 parenting time would place Illinois in a category with 35 other U.S. states that currently use this model. In many ways, an equal parenting time mode could help in combating assumptions that “one parent is better suited for parenting over another.” More specifically, starting from the basis of 50-50 parenting time would clarify that mothers are not more suited to caretaking functions of children than are fathers. Indeed, according to the article, many commentators in favor of the suggested alterations to the law say that these revisions would give fathers the chance to be involved with their children, especially when courts frequently award custody to mothers.
For those in favor of the IMDMA amendments, starting from the position of 50-50 time would help to “even out the playing field for both parents in court.” Rather than one parent being required to make a case for equal parenting time, the court would begin with such a presumption unless there is clear reason to allocate parenting time otherwise.
While some commentators are in favor of the changes to Illinois law—and indeed, many have advocated for these changes themselves—there are other commentators who have voiced strong opposition to the proposed revisions to the IMDMA. For example, some commentators argue that equal parenting makes kids live out of a suitcase and doesn’t consider a child’s need for flexibility. At the same time, others suggest that 50-50 parenting time could be harmful to kids whose parents have a contentious—or even abusive—relationship with one another.
According to the policy director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, collaboration between partners is not an option in a situation when violence takes place. When there is a history of abuse, the 50-50 presumption could be damaging to many parties involved.
Do you have questions about how the proposed changes to the law could impact your case? A Chicago parenting time attorneys can speak with you. Contact Arami Law Office today.
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