There is currently a bill floating around in the Illinois General Assembly that is geared toward increasing the minimum amount of parenting time that judges must award to non-custodial parents. The bill, HB 5425, is sponsored by Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park.
Cabello’s bill would amend the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act by giving parents going through a divorce 90 days to agree to their own parenting plan before the courts get involved. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on their own, the judge must award at least 35 percent of parenting time a week to the non-custodial parent if that parent is declared fit.
Those in favor of the bill feel it would cut down on long, drawn-out child custody battles that just create negativity in a family. Clinical psychiatrist Dr. James Goodell gave testimony in support of HB 5425, saying that “the adversarial nature of the court system starts with the concept that when a couple divorces, they automatically get turned into adversarial opponents.” Goodell also added, “What I see as a therapist is the very process of this contentious atmosphere creates this kind of emotional distress inside the parents that creates injury to the children.” He believes that the bill would help the courts shift from an adversarial to a conciliatory child custody litigation process.
Opponents of the bill say that child custody cases vary so much that judges shouldn’t be forced to follow a “one-size-fits-all” formula. A lawyer for the Cook County public guardian’s office says her office is “strenuously opposed to any type of presumption in a statute related to a child’s best interest.”
To continue to follow the progress of bill HB5425, you can check in on the Illinois General Assembly’s website.