Illinois is one of several states currently considering changing their family laws to better promote shared parenting arrangements. As we have reported, child custody in the past was almost always awarded to mothers while fathers were granted visitation rights.
However, today fathers throughout the nation are demanding a greater amount of time with their children after a divorce or separation, and research suggests that children fare better when they have close relationships with both parents.
Fathers rights advocates say that even though the times have changed, the laws remain outdated and treat fathers unfairly. But even when it is agreed that family laws need updating, it’s difficult to find a solution that everyone is happy with.
In fact, Illinois has been considering revamping its child custody laws for years. Back in 2008, a committee of lawyers, legislators, judges and others was created to lead a reform of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. However, the committee’s efforts have not been very fruitful.
Currently, a bill is moving through the Illinois legislature that some say would result in a significant overhaul. The measure, which has been approved by the House and is now before the Senate, would urge judges to consider an equal parenting time arrangement and would require child custody cases to last no more than 90 days.
Other more drastic versions of the bill have also been proposed but don’t seem to be gaining as much traction. One would have required judges to give each parent at least 35 percent custody each week; however, the measure stalled.
Those in opposition of bills requiring shared parenting arrangements, including the Illinois State Bar Association, say that judges need to be able to make decisions that are in the child’s best interests, and child custody is no place for a “one size fits all” solution.
It will be interesting to see if this is the year family law reform will finally take place in Springfield. If so, it could greatly change how child custody cases are handled in the state. We will keep you posted on the developments.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Illinois joins debate over child custody disputes,” Bonnie Miller Rubin, June 1, 2014