Are Illinois Fathers Shorted Visitation Time with Their Children?

illinois child visitation attorneyMany believe that Illinois divorce and paternity judges refuse or fail to award sufficient time for fathers or noncustodial parents to be with their children.

Those who believe that fathers are shorted visitation time with their children cite a long-standing tradition in Illinois of giving noncustodial parents, particularly fathers, not enough time with their children to maintain the bond necessary for their proper development. There are those who believe that a father's consistency in visitation is essential for a child to grow up having a positive male role model. Those fathers that are ready and willing to provide that role model are not being granted the opportunity to do so, say the proponents of recent changes in the law proposed in Springfield.

In a recent, May 25, 2014, Illinois Review publication of the Illinois State Bar Association was the introduction of proposed changes in family visitation law in Illinois aiming at increasing the minimum award of parenting time judges must award to noncustodial parents in recognition of this concern. A bill aimed at increasing the minimum amount of parenting time judges must award to noncustodial parents is headed to the House floor, but its ultimate fate is uncertain.

"House Bill 5425 (Cabello, R-Rockford) creates three legislative presumptions in the Marriage Act affecting parenting time. (1) It creates a presumption in the purposes and rules of construction section that Illinois recognizes that the involvement of each parent for equal time and not less than 35% of residential parenting time per week is presumptively in the child's best interests. (2) In the custody section, it creates a presumption that it is in the child's best interests to award equal time to each parent. (3) But if the court doesn't find it in the best interests to award equal time or not possible, 'a minimum of 35% residential timer per week should be ordered for the noncustodial parent.' House Bill 5425 passed out of House Judiciary Committee yesterday and is on second reading in the House. The proponents testified that this bill was necessary because judges were refusing or failing to award equitable parenting time for both parents with their child or children."

Likewise a similar provision is proposed by "House Bill 1452 (Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park) recognizes in the purpose and rules of construction section of the Marriage Act that to maximize the opportunity for each child to maintain and strengthen the child's relationship with each parent, the child's best interests may be served with a minimum amount of residential parenting time for each parent of not less than 35% of available residential parenting time. But this presumption regarding the minimum percentage of parenting time shall not, in and of itself, constitute a reason for deviation from the child support guidelines." House Bill 1452 is scheduled for hearing in House Judiciary Committee shortly.

It remains to be seen whether these proposed changes to the law will ever see the light of day. However, their introduction is a strong recognition that Illinois children need both parents to have the best chance of succeeding in life. Perhaps, this will become the widely held dominant belief very soon in Illinois.

For fathers' rights or child visitation legal help, contact the Law Office of Martoccio and Martoccio at 630-920-8855.

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