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Pushing for shared parenting in custody decisions

On behalf of Janet Boyle of Boyle Feinberg Sharma posted in Child Custody on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

Illinois residents who are in the process of divorcing or considering a divorce and are facing a custody dispute might wonder about the parenting plan most beneficial to the children. Traditionally, mothers have gotten primary custody of the children in divorce cases, even if fathers are seeking to gain more time with their children. However, attitudes about custody and what is best for the children is changing.

According to census data, more than 80 percent of custodial parents around the country are mothers. This means that fathers who want to be involved in their children’s lives, but do not have physical custody, often have limited access to their children. A recent Nebraska study, focusing on cases from 2002 to 2012, found that more than 70 percent of non-custodial fathers saw their children an average of only 5.5 days in a month. Research has shown that this can be detrimental to the children, as they might benefit much more from shared parenting plans that allow both parents more equal time with their children after a divorce.

As this trend towards shared parenting gains momentum, nearly 20 states have passed or are considering legislation that would allow both parents more time with their children after the divorce, helping the children deal with the changes brought on by the failure of their parents’ marriage. Some states are considering legislation that calls for 50-50 parenting plans while other states are trying to maximize the time non-custodial parents can spend with their children.

Since the best interest of the child comes first in child custody cases, parents in Illinois should consider shared parenting plans as a way to ease the trauma for their children after a divorce. In some cases, a family law attorney can assist a parent in negotiating an agreement that provides for roughly equal access where possible.