Are Fathers Treated Equally In Illinois Child Custody Cases?
In the past, mothers often had much of the responsibility of raising the children, which was often reflected in many child custody cases. The US Census reported in 2013 that only one out of six children’s custodial parents are fathers. So, does this mean that fathers cannot get the kids in an Illinois divorce? No, you definitely can. If you are a father getting divorced and wonder about your child custody rights, talk to our fathers’ rights attorneys in Chicago at Dan Walker Law Office today.
Illinois Law On Child Custody Decisions
The laws of Illinois are gender and parent-neutral when it comes to child custody decisions, so fathers definitely have the chance to have custody. In addition, the law states that the child’s best interests are the major consideration. First, however, you should understand how the laws work on child custody so you have the best chances in court.
Allocation Of Parental Responsibilities
While we discuss ‘child custody’ in Illinois divorces, noted that the laws of the state do not refer to child custody anymore. Today, the law refers to ‘allocation of parental responsibilities’ involving parenting time and making significant decisions that affect the child’s life. The courts in Illinois have discretion in how to ensure the outcome is in the child’s best interest. This means the family court judge should not allocate parental responsibilities based on previous ideas about who should raise the children.
That said, if the mother spent most of the time with the kids while you worked, the judge would consider that. On the other hand, if you were the primary caregiver as the father, that also will be considered. So, the law does not make presumptions about one parent being ‘better’ than the other based on gender. It also does not require the judge to allocate parenting time and decision-making equally, so there are many possibilities. But what if it is not clear under the law that you are the child’s father?
The Importance Of Establishing Paternity
If you are a father and want to have time with your children after the divorce, it is critical to prove paternity. If you and the mother were married when the child was born, it is presumed by the law that you are the father. If you were not, then there are four ways to establish paternity so you can have your share of parenting time and parental decision-making:
- Getting married after the child is born
- Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
- Paternity action filed in court
- Paternity order by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services Child Support Services
As long as you have proven that you are the child’s father, you should have equal consideration for parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities when you divorce your spouse. The court’s decision in this area will be based on the child’s best interests, and some of the factors considered are:
- What the child wants
- What each parent wants
- What the child’s needs are
- How well the parents can cooperate
- Whether either parent has been convicted of a sex-related offense
- Whether either parent has engaged in domestic violence
The judge can consider other factors when making child custody decisions. But the factors considered should not be biased toward the mother. Your attorney will ensure that, as the father, you are given equal consideration for spending time with your children as the mother.
Talk To Our Fathers’ Rights Attorney In Chicago
Some fathers wonder if they can get custody of their kids in an Illinois divorce. Yes, they can, but if you are a father and wonder what your legal rights are in a divorce, contact our fathers’ rights attorney in Chicago at Dan Walker Law Office at (630) 920-8800.