Parents in Illinois and across the country only want what is best for their children. Unfortunately, couples who are no longer in a romantic relationship are often unable to come to an agreement, prompting them to ask the court to intervene. Recent news reports indicate that a father in another state was recently awarded equal parenting time in a child custody case that reportedly lasted three years and garnered media attention.
The case involved a man and a woman who have two children together. Though they were engaged, their romantic relationship ended before they married. At the time of their split, the couple was unable to come to an agreement on a child custody arrangement. Having only two nights each month with his daughter and four nights each month with his son, the man decided to ask a court to intervene.
After a parenting time evaluation, an evaluator determined that neither of the parents had any physical, chemical or mental issues that would prevent them from providing care for the children. Despite this, the evaluator determined that the father should have his son for 34% of the time and his daughter for 25%; the case went to trial where both parents were given an opportunity to present their arguments in front of a court referee. Ultimately, the judge ruled that the children had the right to experience "love and care" from both parents and awarded the father equal parenting time. The couple will work to gradually transition the children to the new arrangement with the goal of it being fully implemented by Feb. 2020.
In many child custody disputes, the ability of children to have the opportunity of having a strong relationship with both parents may be dependent upon one parent's willingness and ability to fight for equal parenting time. To ensure that their concerns and interests are adequately represented in court, many in Illinois in a similar situation choose to hire an attorney who has experience with such cases to fight on their behalves. In some cases, taking additional court action may be the only path to ensuring equal access to children.