Implications of Proposed House Bill 4113: Equal Parenting Time Presumption
As families that have newly gone through a divorce in DuPage County know, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) was amended relatively recently to do away with the terms of “ child custody” and “visitation.” Amendments to the law changed those terms to “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time,” which reflect the human relationships that exist between parents and their kids and the differences in family structures.
With those changes to the law, Illinois legislators recognized the need for flexibility in allocating important decision-making tasks about a child’s upbringing, as well as flexibility in terms of regular parenting time or spending time with the child and providing caretaking functions. Currently, the IMDMA says the court can take into account a number of different factors in allocating parental responsibilities, which include parenting time.
However, a proposed bill aims to change the presumptions about parenting time in the state. If House Bill 4113 were to pass, courts would have to begin from the presumption that equal parenting time is the best option for all families. We will say more about the potential effects of this bill and what it could mean for different families in DuPage County.
Bill Argues Equal Parenting Time Is Presumptively in the Child’s Best Interests
According to the language of the statute, HB 4113 wants to amend the language of the IMDMA to say that the involvement of each parent for equal time [in his or her child’s life] is presumptively in the child’s best interests. More specifically and forcefully, the full “provides that it is presumed that it is in the child’s best interests to award equal time to each parent.” Further, the proposed bill wants the IMDMA to say that courts will presume that both parents are fit for parenting time and that there is a presumption against placing restrictions on parenting time.
When it comes to the presumption that both parents are fit for parenting time, the bill also wants to increase the evidentiary standard for not allowing parenting time for one of the parties. The bill wants the Act to say that, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that parenting time would seriously endanger the child’s physical mental, moral, or emotional health, then no restrictions will be placed on parenting time. The Act currently says that this proof requires the evidentiary standard of preponderance of the evidence. The standard of clear and convincing evidence is more difficult to meet, and would likely result in more parents receiving parenting time without restrictions.
Potential Effects of HB 4113
What will happen if the bill passes and becomes law? There are both benefits and limitations of the bill depending upon who you ask.
According to an article about the bill in the Chicago Tribune, many fathers’ rights advocates support the bill because they say it will lead more parents to have equal parenting time—a 50/50 split—that can still be difficult with the current system of allocating parental responsibilities. However, other groups oppose the bill. For instance, advocates for the rights of domestic violence survivors emphasize that the clear and convincing evidence standard to restrict parenting time not only places a heavy burden on a parent who is a domestic violence survivor to show that the other parent should have restricted parenting time, but it also makes that evidentiary burden much more difficult to meet. As such, parents with histories of domestic violence could, some argue, have equal parenting time if HB 4113 were to pass.
Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about parenting time in Illinois, an experienced Oakbrook Terrace family law attorney can assist you. Contact Farooqi & Husain Law Office at 630-909-9114 to learn more about the services we provide to members of the Muslim community in DuPage County.