Points regarding Illinois Father’s Proposed Legislation
1. Maximizing the time that each parent spends with the child (Shared Parenting/Equal Time/Etc.)
a. Prior to divorce, a child spends theoretically 100% (or any other number you choose–but it is typically in the “equal” range) with each parent. Presently, after divorce, the child no longer has the opportunity to spend any time with both parents together, thereby losing much parenting time with the child’s parents. The child suffers because of that–there is more than enough research regarding this. The problem is that the court is forcing the child to give up a relationship that the child had with one parent when the court does not award “equal” time. So one relationship/bond the child has does not suffer, but the other relationship/bond the child has is decimated. It is confusing and harmful to the child to see a parent all the time to all of a sudden, rarely.
b. By maximizing the time with both parent, the child not only has the opportunity to bond with both parents, but parenting responsibilities are equalized. Presently, responsibility falls heavily on one parent, preventing that parent from employment opportunities and ability to become financially stable and self sufficient, all of which are important to a child’s well-being.
c. Obviously, this only apples to “fit” parents, which is what we primarily have. And the laws should be written for the masses, not the exceptions. Where the exceptions exist, parenting time would be adjusted.
2. “Best Interest” Presumption
a. Right now, we pick one parent as the winner–“presuming” that this is best, despite all the research to the contrary. As a corollary, we are presuming in every relationship, at least one parent is “bad”/”unfit”/etc.
b. Often, because of how the courts work (picking a winner), instead of looking at what is best, the court is subjectively (and biasedly) selecting a parenting style it likes best, despite that there has never been a determination of “best” parenting style. Often the court is also basing this on a few snippets of information presented by lawyers–untrained in mental health of children.
3. Standards of Proof (Preponderance of the Evidence vs. Clear and Convincing).
a. This is a scary area for multiple reasons. Although we keep talking about “best interest of the child,” we keep using that as an excuse to ignore the rights of the child and the parents. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that parenting rights area “fundamental right.” And for the government to interfere with a “fundamental right” the standard of review is very high–“Strict scrutiny.” Strangely, the law presently does just the opposite–applying the least standard –“preponderance.”
b. There is a middle ground–“Clear and Convincing.” What is a disgrace with the present statute is that when dealing with the taking of property, the statute uses the standard of “clear and convincing.” But when dealing with the basic “fundamental right”(parenting a child), the statute lists “preponderance.” This blatantly shows that money is viewed as more important than the relationship between a child and a parent. It takes little evidence (in actuality, “mere allegation” is enough.) to separate a child from a parent, but more evidence to separate property/money.
Thank you Atty Mick Gearhardt for explaining to Illinoisfather’s members and friends in a more detailed manner the points that are covered in the Shared Parenting Bill.