The Illinois legislature is considering now a Shared Parenting bill that would create a legal presumption that shared child custody and parenting would be the “presumed” status for divorcing parents, absent a showing that such shared parenting is not appropriate. I have had a chance to discuss this bill with some of the judges with whom I appear before (it’s not unusual for experienced lawyers and judges to talk about important issues in private settings, without discussing specific cases). I’d say that the majority do not support presumptive shared parenting, insofar as the limitations created by such a bill would be problematic in ways that are discussed in the article, below.
The other side of the coin with this issue is that, in my experience, without “push” from the legislature, many judges still consider some parents as “visitors” in their children’s lives and resort to recommending parenting schedules that are anachronistic, and akin to the “standard order” visitation schedules that were common in the last century in many Illinois counties.
In my practice, my approach and view is that every family system is different, and there is no “one size fits all” approach that works for a parenting plan after divorce. Many myriad factors need to be evaluated and considered, with the aim of providing the children with the best possible developmental outcome from the divorce of their parents. For good and loving parents, the children should have substantial contact with both parents; the clinical research supports this idea. For parents with deficits, or histories of personality disorders, substance abuse, or violence, or traits as parental alienators… the standard is very different, and the parenting plan needs to address these problematic issues, too.