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Improper Incentives: the dynamite behind many child custody battles

The problems surrounding sharing custody of children can be explained in terms of inappropriate incentives. Until all incentives for using children as weapons are removed, parties will continue to do so. Improper incentives are truly the dynamite behind child custody disputes. Removing the incentives to use children as weapons can be done in several ways. As a divorce lawyer in Illinois, I’d welcome laws that would create less animosity and nonsense in child custody cases. However, there are strong lobbies that pressure the legislature for certain laws that keep the playing field uneven. This is a short list of reforms that would be useful.

  1. Notice Perjury: The courts must not overlook perjury and baseless accusations, as they often do; under the current system parties are incentivized to lie and exploit because they face no repercussions for doing so. How many parents have made unfounded accusations of abuse against the other parent, only to be rewarded with sole custody?
  2. Reform Child Support Systems: The child support system needs reform so that the primary custodial parent is not incentivized to pursue more time with the child solely because he or she will receive more child support.
  3. Reform Visitation Paradigm: Where initially a child spends a disproportionate amount of time with one parent, the other parent need not overcome a high bar of “change in circumstances” in order to move more towards parity in time spent with the child; making modification easier will decrease the abuses that parties perpetrate in trying to capitalize on the massive advantage that comes with obtaining the most “beneficial” initial custody and visitation determination and schedule.