Bill in Favor of Equal Parenting Time Reintroduced in Illinois House

A bill that the Illinois State Bar Association spoke against during last year’s legislative session was refiled this week. The bill, HB 185, would amend the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act to mandate a rebuttable presumption in favor of equal parenting time in every family law case.

The only exception is if the parents present an agreed written parenting plan, and that plan is approved by the court. If the court deviates from this presumption, it requires the court to issue a written decision stating its specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its ruling.

ISBA opposes HB 185 in large part because it undermines the best interests of children standard. It presumes a 50/50 division of parenting time regardless of the family situation and needs of the children. The ISBA also believes that it is harmful to domestic violence and sexual assault victims and would increase litigation and costs of legal representation.

Speaking to WICS on Feb. 5, Jesse West Sr., president and founder of Dads Can Too, which is a proponent of the bill, argued in its favor.

“Just because the relationship didn't last, it doesn't change that you're both the child’s or children's parents,” he told WICS. “Something has to be done to change this. I thought about it and thought well, dads can too.”

Posted on February 6, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Member Comments (10)

I have been practising family law for thirty years.  The instances where the parents actually are civil enough to work on equal parenting time are truly a minority of cases.  This proposed legislation will create immense problems for divorcing parents.  In instances where the parents can do joint parenting, such agreements are already being worked out. For those cases, this legislation is not needed.  For the majority, it can be extremely harmful and promote use of the parenting issue as a method of harrassment and abuse toward the other spouse, not for the best interests of the child. 

I fully concur with the ISBA position. 


The bill last time it was introduced was obviously impractical and not well thought out and would result in chaos. The courts must be free to determine what schedule is appropriate based upon the particular family dynamics    If adopted the bill would result in full employment for matrimonial lawyer.   The reintroduction doesn't change the impact of such legislatation.

I agree 100% with the ISBA and Alicja.  The legislature needs to stop messing around with constantly changing family law and focus on the budget crisis.

This bill presents significant problems with regard to the schooling of the child. If the parents live in disfferent school districts where is the child to be educated?  Who will be responsible for transportation?  Several years ago we had a case where the children were enrolled in two different school districts attending the school where each parent lived when that parent had custody.  It was a disaster as neither school could provide an adequate education for the children.  That a judge would even permit such a situation is equally troubling.

From what I've read, it's a rebuttable presumption. As an attorney that principally represents children, I've found that there is a lot of hold out on parenting time agreements because overnights are now factored into child support by statute.

Perhaps, this will decrease the hold out rate and increase more settlement while keeping in mind some of the issues raised these posts.

Totally oppose this bill for more.reasons than I have time to mention.

The comment that the best interest standard is somehow not considered as a result of the rebuttable presumption is simply not accurate. The reality is that there is presently a non statutory rebuttable presumption that favors disproportionate parenting time in a conventional heterosexual marriage to the woman. It seems to me that while the legislation may not be perfect it at least creates a level playing field. As advocates for our client's we can certainly present a factual basis, where and when appropriate, to rebut the equal parenting time presumption. There is no doubt that in today's society where both parents are generally working full time and share equal child rearing responsibilities, the law needs to keeps up with the societal changes and recognize this new reality.

I agree with ISBA's position fully.  When parents truly are able to agree on a parenting time schedule that works for the family and is in the best interests of the child are likely working out such an agreement so that the legislation is not needed.  For the majority, especially as child support is affected by the number of overnights, this legislation will likely add to much more litigation and clog the court calls. This can be exceptionally harmful when parents will use this parenting issue as a method of abusing and harrassing the other, putting the child in the middle, and not finally supporting the child per the child support statute, which all clearly are not in the child's best interests.  As a GAL, many parents hold out on parenting agreements due to payment of child support, whether to pay less or not at all.  Further, children are supposed to know where they attend school and where they call home.  This legislation will make it hard for children who may spend more time in the car with transportation than quality time with each parent unless the parents are forced to live in the same or near town.  Cannot say enough about how awful this Bill is when I think about how it would work in the real world. 

Folks, I have never commented on a House Bill before...but I am now.

We need to find an effective compromise.

So, please consider this:  both parents file Appearances, they agree to disagree and the presumption kicks in...I get this is a problem...but, it is a rebuttable presumption.

Now, please consider this:  one parent does not file an Appearance, does not want to be a player in the litigation...perhaps, the presumption does not kick in?  

I agree with the ISBA position and I fully support it.  Having said that, life and family law is full of compromises...this is a suggestion and nothing more...let's think out of the box...we are family lawyers and thinking out of the box is what we do...

I am not posting this comment to invite dissension or anger...merely a post to invite thought.   I am simply saying that family law is not black and white and we all know, thank you for reading this post and considering it...and please, have a good, safe, and warm weekend, Susan Shivers

I am not a family law practitioner and send this as a fellow attorney who supports the ISBA position and agrees with the other critical comments.   

I comment mainly as a concerned relative of a couple in another state who were faced with the consequences just such a law about 10 years ago.  Courts in that state tended to apply the "presumption" as so  ironclad that it could only be overcome by a higher degree of proof almost akin to a post-decree standard for changing care/custody.  It led to unnecessary rancor in already contentious circumstances fraught with animosity, and led litigants to choose between higher initial litigation costs or caving in to an initial arrangement that could easily be foreseen as doomed, especially for the child.  

Keep the decisions based upon the best interests of the children.  

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