Parenting time trial involving the parenting time of a 13-month-old child. Mom wanted a majority of parenting time with Dad having his days off with the child and Dad wanted a 50/50 schedule. Both parties worked full time and the child was in day-care and the parties lived an hour apart. Dad wanted a 50/50 schedule and intended on placing the child in daycare on the days he had parenting time and had to work and Mom had the child in a different daycare on the days she had parenting time and had to work.
The main issue in this Trial was whether or not a 50/50 schedule was in the child’s best interest.
Is a 50/50 Parenting Schedule in a Young Child’s Best Interest?
Anderson & Boback has worked on many cases involving a parent that is either seeking or opposing a 50/50 parenting schedule. We have successfully obtained 50/50 parenting schedules for many clients, as well as many cases successfully representing the parent who opposed a 50/50 parenting schedule, as was the case here.
Anderson & Boback represented Mom who was opposed to the 50/50 schedule. We were successful at trial in obtaining the parenting schedule that our client wanted. Since the child was quite young, Mom sought to maintain having primary parenting time with Dad having their 13-month old child on the two days each week when he was not working.
Understanding the Factors Used Determining the Best Interests the Child
In preparation for the trial, we made sure mom had a complete understanding of the factors that the court would consider in determining what was in the best interest of the minor child. We prepared our client for the testimony which included the facts and how they related to each factor. Without the court having evidence related to the specific factors, it would have been difficult to successfully argue what is in the best interest of the child.
Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative Not Required
There was no Guardian ad Litem or representative for the minor child, so we went to trial without a court’s witness to advise the court of the child’s best interest after such investigation.
As a rule, courts will require that the child have either a Guardian Ad Litem or a Representative for this purpose.
In this case, the Court did not appoint anyone to do an investigation and report back to the court. Because of this, we had to procure our own expert witness to provide evidence that it was not in the best interest of this minor child to have a 50/50 schedule.
Child Development Expert Testimony
In order to serve as an expert in this case, we needed someone who could demonstrate significant experience in the field of child development. At trial, we brought an expert witness in the field of child development who was qualified through education, skill, training, knowledge, as well as practical experience.
Our expert was able to articulate to the court her opinion on a 50/50 schedule and how she came to that opinion. The court found our witness credible and the testimony was important evidence to get the results we were looking for.
50/50 Parenting Time Legislation Pending – Illinois House Bill 4113
A bill promoting 50/50 parenting time has been introduced to the Legislature (House Bill 4113) but is not at the time of this case the law in Illinois. In this case, a blanket request for 50/50 parenting time was inconsistent with the current law’s emphasis on the best interests of a child and instead shifted the focus to the parents.
Our current law very clearly equitably allocates parenting time AND protects the best interests of children. A “50/50” or “one-size-fits-all” approach to parenting time simply isn’t practical in all cases. Accordingly, we asked the court to focus on the specific circumstances of this family and not put the interest of this young child on the back burner as Dad was requesting.