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Proposed bill would change visitation rules in Illinois


Many Illinois parents have split up and, as a result, must deal with visitation schedules for their children. These schedules typically are a part of child custody orders. It is fairly common in Illinois for one parent to receive more time with the children than the other parent; generally, the parent receiving more time is the mother. Many fathers, though, would like to have more time with their children and in some situations, it may be beneficial for children to spend more time with the non-custodial parent.

A new bill has been proposed in the Illinois legislature that would give non-custodial parents more time with their children. The proposed bill states that the non-custodial parent must have the child for at least 35% of the time, which translates to about 60 hours per week. The bill does allow for parents to come to their own agreement, however; the non-custodial parent also may waive the 35% requirement if certain conditions make it unfeasible to have the child 35% of the time.

Proponents of the bill say it is necessary to have the 35% requirement in order to cut down on long, contentious custody battles and to ensure that each parent sees the child for an adequate amount of time. Opponents to the bill do not like the strict 35% requirement and are in favor of something less rigid, which would allow visitation schedules to change as changes in the child's life occur.

Whether the new bill passes or not, the basis of any child custody decision is the best interest of the child. Under current law, the courts look to a number of factors in order to guide the decision-making process. If the new bill passes, things may change, but right now the courts look to factors such as who is the primary caretaker for the child, the child's adjustment to school, their relationships with others in the households, the child's preference, if he or she is old enough to express a valid preference and many others. Parents also can reach an agreement on child custody through mediation or just through communication with each other prior to a judge making the decision for them.

The proposed custody bill in Illinois may make dramatic changes to the current law. Until then, parents will still need to use the current law during custody disputes. Attorneys understand the factors that affect custody decisions and may be a useful resource as one is going through the process.

Source: The State Journal-Register, "'Shared Parenting' bill would set new visitation rules" Tobias Wall, Mar. 19, 2014

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