Debate Continues on Merits of Equal Parenting Time

Debate Continues on Merits of Equal Parenting TimeMore than half of the states in the U.S., including Illinois, are considering proposals that would make equal parenting time after divorce the standard. Illinois law currently presumes that children are better off living a majority of the time with one parent. An Illinois court will allow a 50-50 split of parenting time if the parents can show why it is in the children’s best interest. Because fathers are less likely to have a majority of parenting time, fathers’ rights groups have led the efforts for equal parenting time. However, critics argue that equal parenting time is of greater benefit to parents than the children.

Proposed Legislation

Members of the Illinois House of Representatives have presented a bill that would change the expectations for parenting time after a divorce. The law would advise Illinois courts to start by presuming that parenting time will be split equally and adjust it based on the individual circumstances of the case. The court may decide to award greater parenting time to one party based on:

  • The time and resources a parent has for the children;
  • Proximity of the parents to each other;
  • Which parent can provide a better living environment; and
  • Any danger a parent may pose to a child.

Because the law would presume that equal parenting time is in the best interest of the child, a party who wants a majority of the parenting time would bear the burden of proof. Proponents of the law say that it allows parents to start as equals when determining the allocation of parental responsibilities and that courts would still be able to adjust parenting time if appropriate.


Illinois courts prefer that parenting time not be equal because many people believe that evenly divided parenting time is more disruptive to the children. The parents could not avoid exchanging the children on a school night, which would make the children’s lives more hectic. Children also benefit from feeling that one home is their permanent residence. The best interest of the children is the most important factor when determining the allocation of parental responsibilities. Equal parenting time may benefit one parent’s desire to spend more time with the children, at the expense of the children’s convenience.

Parental Responsibilities

Illinois replaced the term “child custody” with “the allocation of parental responsibilities” because parenting after a divorce is more than parenting time. A parent who has a minority of the parenting time with the children can find other ways to be involved in their lives. A Kane County family law attorney at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio can make sure that your parenting agreement preserves your role as a parent. Schedule a free consultation by calling 331-588-6611.


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