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The Benefits and Failures of Shared Parenting Laws

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Illinois state child custody laws, Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyAdvocates of shared parenting believe that children of divorced or separated parents would benefit if both parents were awarded shared custody instead of just one parent being granted sole custody. These advocates are urging a change to the decades long approach in child custody suits that typically award mothers sole custody. Under the shared parenting approach, a flexible custody arrangement is created that allows children to enjoy the benefit of having two fully engaged parents.

Recently, the National Parents Organization (NPO) released a new report detailing the current state of shared custody arrangements throughout the U.S. What emerged was the conclusion that most states not only discouraged shared parenting, but were also depriving children of the benefits that come with spending ample time with both parents, while reinforcing a system that facilitates parental inequality. The NPO 2014 Shared Parenting Report Card assigned each state a grade, A through F, as a rating of the worst and best states for shared parenting. No states received an A rating, but Illinois received a C+ rating, along with four other states.

The Argument For Shared Parenting

Around 80 percent of child custody awards are granted in the favor of the mother. This tradition has been followed for decades by judges whom the NPO believes are still relying on outdated Freudian psychoanalysis and other research that assert that women are better suited to provide for the care, support, and supervision of children. However, evidence suggests something different. In fact reviews of studies focusing on the differences between children in shared parenting arrangements and those with one custodial parent provide support for shared parenting. This review revealed that children in shared parenting arrangements had lower rates of anxiety, depression, truancy, substance abuse, and other undesirable behaviors than those parents who lived mostly with one custodial parent.

The NPO Study

The NPO research team conducted research regarding the child custody statutes of every state. The team discovered that the custody statutes in 45 states addressed both marital and nonmarital children, and the remaining state statutes only addressed marital children. This finding was significant because according to U.S. Health and Human Services data, almost 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents. The NPO also reviewed each state's shared parenting statutes and then graded each state, while also including the different weaknesses and strength of each state's child custody laws. The only real negative given for Illinois was the absence of any statutory presumption or preference in favor of shared parenting. In fact, the Illinois child custody law specifically states that “there shall be no presumption in favor of or against joint custody.”

The shared parenting movement is rapidly developing each year. If you are interested in pursuing shared custody of your child, or need legal assistance from an experienced Joliet family law attorney, contact the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone & Barbara Morton, P.C. for an initial consultation.

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