Illinois attorneys and the Illinois legislature are now studying changes to Illinois’ Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. One of the goals of the review is to, perhaps, bring Illinois into the 21st Century by reforming the way we resolve custody issues, as well as revising the language of custody. What changes would you like to see in our Illinois dissolution and custody statutes?
I’d certainly like to see the concept of “custody” relegated to the dustbin of history. Mom and Dad are parents…why not enact legislation that defines parenting as a shared relationship? Isn’t it almost always true that the non-custodial parent hates to have what is called “visitation?” When does a parent become a visitor? How many custody wars have been fought over who would be relegated to “visitor” status?
Minnesota attorney and mediator Molly Millet discusses below changes that Minnesota made in 2007: “The biggest change in Minnesota that has been helpful is the perception of “custody.” Before, parents would fight over the custody label – who got custody and how that related to child support. Now, it’s “parenting time.” Now, parents are focusing on time with their kids, rather than a legal label.It also takes both spouses’ incomes into account. If you earn twice as much, you will pay more. It didn’t make any sense before. Let’s say Mom worked and Dad lost his job. He was paying child support, and the calculation didn’t in any way take into account Mom had always earned more than Dad. Also before, expenses were split 50-50 regardless of who made what income. Now, in most cases, it’s split proportionally.”
I’ve discussed some of the proposed changes with members of the Family Law Committee that are advising the legislature. Any changes that bring Illinois into the modern custody era will be welcome.