Illinois is joining 35 other states in seeking equal parenting for divorced couples. House Bill 4113 contains proposed changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which would allow courts to initially award divorcing couples equal custody of their children.
The Illinois Fathers For Equality (ILFFE) organization and similar groups are working to get the bill passed, which would allow both parents the opportunity to contribute equally to the upbringing, health and well-being of their children.
Chad Loudermilk, president and co-founder of ILFFE, said, “The cards are often stacked against one parent, and it’s so much harder for them to prove that they are deserving of 50/50.”
Proponents quote recent research which shows that children do better in all facets of their lives when they have access to both parents and experience more stability and fewer stressors, regardless of whether their parents get along or not.
Opponents say that offering 50-50 custody as the starting point in a custody hearing doesn’t always fit the specific circumstances of the parents’ relationship, especially in cases where abuse or domestic violence figure into the situation.
Carrie Boyd, policy director for the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says, “Courts should not be required to start from this presumption that 50-50 time is always in the best interest of all children everywhere.”
However, Illinois divorce court judges hold final say and after taking both parents’ wishes into consideration, may adjust the ratio of custody between parents accordingly.
Thirty-five other states across the country are also attempting to pass similar proposals this year. Other states, like Kentucky, have a 50-50 parenting law that works on a temporary basis, while final custody arrangements are decided in court.