Why Divorced Dads in Illinois See Less of Their Children

Divorced dads in Illinois see their children less.

Illinois fathers are not getting enough time with their children.  Although, officially, fathers are supposed to have more rights today than they had years ago when mothers were almost always granted primary custody of the children, in actuality Illinois dads see less of their children than dads in most other states.

According to a new study by Custody X Change, a Utah-based company that sells software to help divorced parents create parenting plans, Illinois ranks in the bottom five states for the amount of custody time dads get to spend with their kids.  The study showed that Illinois children spend an average of 23.1 percent of their time each year with their dad, which places our fathering time in 47th place in the U.S.  States that ranked worse were Mississippi, where dads get their children 23 percent of the time; Oklahoma where they get 22.4 percent; and Tennessee, where they get 21.8 percent.

This dismal record has occurred even though the importance of children having a father’s presence has been recognized. Studies have shown that children who do not have a father in their lives suffer many negative effects, such as being more likely to use drugs or drop out of school. Fathers are more likely than mothers to engage in physical activity with their children and are an important role model for them.

If you are a father facing divorce, it is in your children’s best interest to have as much time with you as possible. In fact, in families where parents can manage their co-parenting relationship by putting the kids first and keeping a consistent set of rules across the two households, children do well in a 50/50 percent split between mom and dad.

The seasoned and compassionate Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. can help.  We understand the stresses of divorce and the concerns parents have for the well-being of their children.  If you are a father with problems involving paternity, custody, parenting time and responsibility, child support, or any other father’s rights issue, contact us to set up a free initial consultation so we can examine your individual situation and come up with solutions that are best for you and your children.

What is Illinois Law?

For years, Illinois courts tended to give the mother the majority of parenting time, despite the fact that in modern times more mothers work and more fathers have become stay at home parents. Under the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, this trend has been changing to be gender-neutral.  The new law  recognizes that all children have a right to the mental, physical, monetary, and emotional support of their parents, and that “the parent and child relationship, including support obligations, extends equally to every child and to every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents.”

Child visitation rights are not automatically the rights of either parent, but are considered the rights of the child. In addition, if a parent has less parenting time, that parent is still allowed to be equal in making decisions.

The law requires that divorcing parents come up with a parenting plan that deals with visitation. If parents do not agree on a fair plan, fathers often wind up having to fight for their rights in family court, especially if they are denied access to their children. The courts will then make decisions regarding child custody, child support, and visitation rights according to what is in the “best interests of the child.”

Illinois judges are not supposed to hold one parent in higher regard than another and should ensure that fathers have just as much of a legal right to child custody as mothers do. However, often mothers wind up having more benefits and control.

It is up to the father to show that it is in his child’s best interests to spend as much time with him as possible. If he doesn’t, the courts may revert to the old thinking of assuming it’s better for the child to spend most time with the mother. Some mothers will even try to deny visitation or even falsely accuse a father of abuse to keep him from his child.

What You Can Do

If you are a father who has to fight for your fair share of parenting time, you may have to prepare for a lengthy and contentious process. Consider doing the following:

  • Know your legal rights as a parent.
  • Determine how much time you can realistically spend with your children and how they will be cared for during your parenting time.
  • Document all attempts to spend time with your children and attempts of your ex-spouse to prevent this.
  • Get witnesses to vouch for your being a good father.
  • Get a competent and experienced father’s rights attorney to help.
  • Don’t fight directly with your ex – let the attorney determine the best way to handle your situation.


Illinois laws regarding parental rights and obligations are complicated, and if you make a mistake you will have to deal with the results for years. If you have questions about your rights as a father and the time you can spend with your children, you should contact an experienced attorney to be sure you and your children are protected.

The skilled Illinois family-law and father’s rights attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws, the courts and the system and can guide you through the process.  We represent and advise clients in all types of father’s rights matters and have a long history of success.

Don’t delay. For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County lawyer, call or contact us online or call to set up a free initial consultation.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]