Illinois needs equal parenting time law to protect fathers’ rights
In 2017, a bill was introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives that would give mothers and fathers the presumption of equal parenting time. The bill eventually died. Now, five years later, it’s more necessary than ever.
Here’s why: Over the past two years, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on society. Social services and programs that help reduce crime have been cut. Schools were closed and unable to keep unruly teenagers safe and distracted. Crime, including carjackings often committed by teenagers, is on the rise in virtually every city in the United States.
At the same time, divorces have increased, exposing more children to behavioral problems — and later, crime — that can come from growing up in single-custody households.
It’s essential to start divorce and child custody cases on the assumption that joint custody and equal parenting time – for both fathers and mothers – is the best solution for children who may be caught in the middle. legal battles between parents.
Of course, in some cases, a judge could very well decide that a 50/50 arrangement is not in the best interests of a particular child. But all cases should start from the presumption that the best parent is both parents.
Better for children and society
For too long, gender bias in custody cases has existed to the detriment of too many fathers and their children. It is high time that this situation changed, to put both parents on an equal footing and allow them to focus solely on the best interests of the child.
Many studies have shown that children tend to perform better behaviorally and emotionally when both parents are important in their lives. Yet despite the abundance of scientific evidence supporting the idea that mothers and fathers should play a meaningful role in a child’s post-divorce life, courts too often continue to accept outdated gender stereotypes. by giving the bulk of parenting time to one parent – most often, the mother.
This lingering bias regarding gender norms still often impacts outcomes in family law courtrooms.
The 2017 bill sought to change this dynamic. If passed, it would have changed the system to one in which the courts start from the default position that each parent should be given equal parenting time, unless there is evidence that granting parental time to one of the parents would endanger the mental and physical health of the child. , moral or emotional health.
Opponents of equal parenting bills rely on the argument that forcing a child to live with two parents, through shared custody arrangements, is too disruptive. Granting sole physical custody to one parent — again, usually the mother — is, they say, in the best interests of the child.
But studies show that children can adapt well to living in two different households. What they don’t adapt well to is losing their ability to form a meaningful relationship with a parent who has wasted a lot of time with a child due to sole custody arrangements.
Opponents also argue that shared parenting laws put the rights of parents before those of children, claiming that such laws fetter judicial discretion. But equal parenting time is, in fact, in children’s best interests, according to research. And ultimately, judges still decide the terms of custody. A parent whose living environment puts a child in physical, mental, emotional or moral danger may still be denied equal parenting time.
It’s time for lawmakers to make equal parenting time the law in Illinois. It’s better for children and families — and ultimately for society.
Jeffery M. Leving is Founder and President of The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving Ltd., and is an advocate for fathers’ rights.
Send letters to [email protected]