7 months, 4 weeks ago From sj-r.com
Lawmakers have a choice between an overhaul of Illinois' divorce law or a bill that would set a minimum amount of parenting time for non-custodial parents
State lawmakers have a choice this spring between a wide-reaching overhaul of Illinois' divorce law or a bill with the single aim of setting a minimum amount of parenting time for non-custodial parents.
One bill is a 196-page omnibus that changes dozens of provisions currently on the books. The other, more narrow bill, sets minimum parenting time standards for divorced parents.
Both bills are in amendment stage on the House floor, but it's uncertain when they'll move.
Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, sponsored the omnibus that she said was drafted based on recommendations made by the Family Law Study Committee, created by a House joint resolution in 2008.
On the committee were legislators, attorneys and family advocacy group members.
“The committee was created to revamp the divorce act. They felt it was ready for an overhaul,” Burke said.
One area the committee agreed needed attention was how judges make custody and visitation decisions. Currently, the most typical court-ordered arrangement allows non-custodial parents every other weekend and one day each week with their kids.
An original version of Burke's House Bill 1452 was drafted to include the FLSC's recommendation stating equal parenting time between divorced parents was in a child's best interest.
According to that draft, if parents are not able to come up with their own parenting plan, the courts step in.
“The committee put (a minimum parenting time provision) in the original legislation as a presumption, and that presumption could be rebutted by different circumstances,” Burke said.
According to the original language, judges were to presume that allotting non-custodial parents at least 35 percent of parenting time in a week, or almost 60 hours, was in a child's best interest.
The 60-hour provision wasn't binding, but some parents' rights groups involved with drafting the legislation said it was an improvement over current law they could live with.