Currently pending in the Illinois Legislature is House Bill 0185, which if enacted, may prove to have major ramifications in any divorce case involving children. Under this new bill, unless specifically stated in a court approved parenting plan, each parent would be granted equal parenting time.  This award of equal parenting time would a rebuttable presumption and states that the court will look to all relevant factors when allocating parenting time. It goes on to list 17 factors the court must consider when making a determination.
Several of the enumerated factors include: the wishes of each parent seeking parenting time, the wishes of the child, the amount of time each parent spent performing caretaking functions, prior agreements or conduct of the parties, and the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings. While this list is not exhaustive of what the court may consider when awarding parenting time, it does illustrate the best interest of the child is still supposed to be the focus of the inquiry. If the court does decide equal parenting time is not in the child’s best interest, it would be required to issue a written decision stating its specific findings in support of its decision.
The purpose of the bill is said to maximize the opportunity for children to maintain and strengthen the children’s relationship with each parent. However, if passed, this bill could raise several major issues for parents going through divorce. For example, if the parties no longer live in close proximity to one another, the time and cost of transportation will likely be a key factor that has to be resolved. Also, many parents’ work schedules don’t allow for equal parenting time. This may require additional child care expenses to be incurred or schedules to be modified.
Perhaps the biggest issue we may face with the passage of this bill would be child support modifications. Awarding each parent equal parenting time is likely to drastically reduce any support obligation or possibly even eliminate a child support award. Luckily, this bill is still merely a proposed bill allowing ample time to iron out any issues that you may face should it be enacted.
If you have any questions on how this potential new law may affect you or if you have any other family law matter concerns, contact Sherer Law Offices at (618) 692-6656.
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