An Illinois legislator has proposed a bill that requires a court to award a non-custodial parent at least 35% parenting time per week. Parents involved in child custody litigation will have 90 days after bringing an action to agree on a parenting plan. If they cannot agree within that timeframe, then the Court may intervene.
Those in favor of the legislation believe it will remove the prolonged fighting that often accompanies custody cases. It will help alleviate the stress associated with determining how parents will co-parent after they are divorced. Proponents state that if parents know what a Court will order, they will be more likely to cooperate with each other in agreeing on a parenting plan.
Those opposed to the bill argue that because each family’s situation is unique, a set time allowance for non-custodial parenting time will not work. The parents work schedules, distance between homes and the children’s school and extra-curricular activities are among a few of the factors that must be taken into account when determining how much time a non-custodial parent will have to spend with his/her children each week.
The bigger issue is if a set time amount is “in the children’s best interest”. Given the large number of factors that must be coordinated for a successful parenting plan to be successful, court mandated parenting time is not an ideal solution.
Here are some basic issues to consider: Will the time the children are sleeping or being driven back and forth be counted in the mandatory time? Is 35% co-parenting time enough or too much for a particular family? Does one parent stay at home while the other works? Is one parent more involved in after-school activities (scouting or coaching for instance)? What is the interest level in parenting? Will the parent who is not parenting be allowed to attend events that occur during that time?
The sheer volume of issues to be resolved in a parenting plan is best left up to the parties themselves. This includes the amount of parenting time a non-custodial parent spends each week with his/her children.
House Bill 5425 introduced by Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park.