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Illinois shared custody bill advances to the House

An Illinois bill that wants to make shared custody a priority has passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 9-3 vote. However, the bill's future is uncertain, according to its sponsor.

Under the bill, parents who are divorcing will be given 90 days to create and agree to a parenting plan. If parents are unable to agree to a shared custody plan, the court will step in. At this stage, any parent who has been deemed fit by the state will receive at least 35 percent custody.

Advocates of the bill say that it will reduce court time associated with contentious custody cases. In turn, it's hoped that the bill will help reduce custody battle stress that's fostered on children and their parents. According to a clinical psychiatrist, reducing lengthy court battles will help parents and children.

An attorney for the public guardian's office in Cook County disagrees with the bill. She says that parenting and families are not one-size-fits-all and judges should not be forced to create situations where families are forced to conform to a standard parenting plan. She says if the bill passes, families will be required to follow the law and that it will remove the ability for parents to come up with their own agreement if they're unable to agree in the first 90 days.

A similar bill, known as the family omnibus bill, has also been introduced. Many members of the House Judiciary Committee stated that they wanted to compare the two bills in the full House before determining which one would better meet the needs of Illinois families. The sponsor of the shared custody bill says that he will move forward with his bill if the family omnibus bill stalls.

It's unclear just how either bill will fare in the Illinois House. However, parents who determine child custody and visitation with the best interests of the child in mind are preferred, but not always possible if both parents disagree on what is best for the child.

Source: The State Journal-Register, "Shared-parenting bill moves to House, its future uncertain" Tobias Wall, Mar. 24, 2014

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