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Shared Parenting Laws: Will Illinois Ever Consider Shared Parenting?

The State Of Iowa has on its books a Shared Parenting statute. which establishes shared parenting as the presumptively preferred means of custody in Iowa.

Here in Illinois, litigants often times fight custody “wars” over which parent will “win” the custody of the child(ren). As a lawyer and aggressive advocate for my clients, I enjoy a strongly contested case, but the fight over the custody of children is a battle that often should not be fought. Divorce creates enormous personal stresses in families, and the impact of divorce on children is well known. Having parents fight wars for the time with the children seems to me unhealthy, unnecessarily painful, and uselessly costly to families.

There are cases where joint physical custody is not appropriate. The Courts are well prepared to determine these cases. However, it would be a welcome event to see Illinois evolve out of the custody “dark ages,” into a more enlightened view toward statutory shared parenting. This would take the fight out of the parenting part of the case.

Below is a proposed Federal statute for shared parenting, from an Iowa shared parenting advocacy group:

Title of Bill:
An Act Relating to Physical Care of Children in Domestic Relations
Be It Enacted By The United States Congress
1 Preamble: An Act relating to joint physical care of children in domestic relations and
2 establishing a uniform federal law creating a rebuttable presumption that a request for joint 3 physical care is in the best interest of the child.
4 5 SECTION 1: This act may be cited as, “Shared Parenting bill.”
7 SECTION 2: In any domestic relations proceeding, the states shall award joint physical 8 care to both joint custodial parents upon the request of either parent during the proceedings 9 on the initial dissolution petition or during the proceedings on a modification of the original 10 custody order.
11 12 SECTION 3: A rebuttable presumption exists that a request for joint physical care by either 13 parent is in the best interest of the child, the burden of proof to rebut the presumption rests 14 on the party denying that joint physical care is in the best interest of the child, and such 15 party shall demonstrate that joint physical care is not in the best interest of the child by clear 16 and convincing evidence.

17 18 SECTION 4: The states shall require the parents to submit, either individually or jointly, a 19 proposed joint physical care parenting plan. A proposed joint physical care parenting plan 20 shall address how the parents will make decisions affecting the child, how the parents will 21 provide a home for the child, how the child’s time will be divided between the parents and 22 how each parent will facilitate the child’s time with the other parent, arrangements in 23 addition to court ordered child support for the child’s expenses, how the parents will resolve 24 major changes or disagreements affecting the child including changes that arise due to the 25 child’s age and developmental needs, and any other issues the court may require.
26 27 SECTION 5: If a state court finds by clear and convincing evidence that joint physical care 28 is not in the best interest of the child and denies the request for joint physical care, the 29 determination shall be accompanied by specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that 30 the awarding of joint physical care is not in the best interest of the child. In determining the 31 best interest of the child relative to the denial of a request for joint physical care, a state 32 court shall consider that the best interest of the child includes the opportunity for maximum 33 continuous physical and emotional contact possible with both parents, unless direct physical 34 or significant emotional harm to the child may result from this contact.
35 36 SECTION 6: Unites States District Courts and United States Court of Appeals shall have 37 subject matter jurisdiction to intervene when civil liberties are violated.
39 SECTION 7: This bill shall go into effect 91 days after passage.

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