x markes on a couple' hands, child custodyA bill before the Illinois legislature proposes 50/50 child custody, or equal parenting time, in all divorce cases involving children. However, equal parenting time may not always be in the best interests of children. The law’s 50/50 standard may complicate efforts by parents and their family law attorney to achieve a fair custody arrangement that protects the children while treating parents equitably.

Pros and Cons

The bill’s intent is to resolve child custody issues more quickly by establishing a standard that applies to all divorce custody cases. Sponsors of the bill claim that, except in rare situations, equally shared custody is always best for children.

Losing a parent through a divorce is often difficult for children, but not all parenting relationships are ideal. The debate centers around concerns that the new law would force child custody outcomes that place children at a disadvantage without deliberate consideration of their needs.

For example:

  • A parent may have a history of abuse or criminal activity
  • Equal parenting time may not be feasible when distance separates parents
  • Both parents may not have the same parenting skills
  • The ages of the children may present needs that are beyond the capability of one of the parents
  • Financial circumstances may make shared parenting difficult for one or both parents
  • Children may have a custody preference that should be considered

One Size Doesn’t Always Fit All

In an ideal world, shared parenting might be best for all children, but in child custody law, as in most things, one size does not fit all. The goal in child custody cases is to determine what is in the best interests of children.

When handling divorce cases involving children, a family law attorney attempts to achieve a custody arrangement tailored to the needs of children while providing fair treatment of parents. Illinois’s equal parenting time legislation may put children at a disadvantage, forcing an outcome that may not always be in their best interests. As the discussion of the bill continues, care must be taken not to overlook the fundamental mission of meeting the needs of the children.