Late last year, a bill was introduced in the Illinois Legislature that aims to increase the amount of parenting time awarded to non-custodial parents. House Bill 4113, more commonly known as the Equal Parenting Time bill, has received a significant amount of support since its introduction and recently survived two rounds of debate before being sent to the Rules Committee. If passed, this bill would create a legal presumption in Illinois that an award of equal parenting time after divorce is in a child’s best interests. This in turn could have a significant impact on how much time children are able to spend with each of their parents during and after divorce. To learn more about how this bill could affect your own custody concerns, please contact our Mount Prospect child custody and visitation legal team today for advice.
Presumption of Equal Parenting Time
If HB 4113 is passed in Illinois, courts would begin automatically presuming that awarding equal time and access to each of a child’s parents following a divorce is in that child’s best interests. This change would also require that both parents be presumed to be fit to share custody of their child, so restrictions on visitation would only be put in place if clear and convincing evidence were submitted demonstrating that a parent could seriously endanger a child’s physical or emotional health. This in turn, would make it much more difficult for a parent’s visitation to be reduced or taken away, as the current law only requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much lower, and easier standard to meet than the burden of clear and convincing evidence.
It is also important to note that this equal time sharing arrangement would not necessarily be mandatory for all families, as couples would still be encouraged to create their own parenting schedules by coming to an out-of-court agreement, although these arrangements would still be subject to court approval before they could go into effect.
The Potential Consequences of Enactment
Like any proposed law, HB 4113 has both its supporters and its detractors, with the former arguing that this type of legal presumption would give children more meaningful access to both of their parents, thereby increasing their chances of a healthy transition after divorce. Opponents of the bill, on the other hand, claim that as it is written, the proposed bill robs judges of their discretion and could potentially lead to a child’s being placed in the care of a dangerous or unfit parent. The validity of these concerns will depend on the ultimate fate of the bill, which remains unknown.
Call an Experienced Mount Prospect Child Custody Attorney About Your Concerns Today
To schedule a consultation with a dedicated and compassionate divorce attorney, please contact the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC today by calling 847-255-9925. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online. We look forward to addressing your custody-related questions and concerns.