While fathers have more rights today than they had years ago when mothers were almost always granted primary custody of the children, it sometimes still may be a struggle for fathers to obtain the custody arrangement they are entitled to. While in today’s world, both parents often work, fathers may be the stay-at-home parent, and Illinois family laws have changed to be more gender-neutral, mothers may still wind up with better chances of getting custody.
If you are a father who is in a custody battle with your child’s mother, the child custody attorneys for fathers at Wolfe & Stec can help. We understand the stresses you are going through and the issues you must deal with and are prepared to take all steps necessary to resolve them fairly.
We offer a free initial consultation to examine your individual situation, answer questions about relevant Illinois custody laws and how they apply to you, and determine the best way to help you fight for custody and other rights you and your children deserve.
Illinois law recognizes that all children have a right to the mental, physical, monetary, and emotional support of both their parents. In 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act was updated to remove the terms “custody” and “visitation” and substitute the terms “parenting time” and “allocation of parental responsibilities.” The purpose was to encourage parents to have a healthy and safe relationship with each other, reduce disputes over who would be the “custodial parent,” and eliminate making one feel like the “winner” and the other the “loser.”
The law requires that divorcing parents come up with a parenting plan that deals with custody and 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, now called “allocation judgments” setting forth each parent’s responsibility, including the parenting time each will receive, according to what is in the “best interests of the child.”
Illinois judges are supposed to ensure that fathers have just as much of a legal right to child custody as mothers do, as long as it is in the best interests of the child. However, it doesn’t always work that way. According a 2018 study by Custody X Change, fathers in Illinois usually get about 23 percent of parenting time, the fourth-lowest figure in the U.S.
If you want more or equal parenting time, you need be able to come up with a workable schedule and show that:
Factors that courts consider in determining the child’s best interests when allocating parenting time and parental responsibilities include:
If parents can’t agree on a parenting plan, they will be required to mediate their differences. If the parents still can’t agree, the court will decide how parenting time and responsibility will be divided in an “allocation judgment” based on the best interests of the children. This often involves appointing experts to evaluate the parents, the child, and the living situation and to submit a report to the court with a recommendation. There will be a trial, during which each side presents testimony and other evidence supporting its position. The court will then enter its allocation judgment and decide upon a parenting plan.
Under Illinois law, married parents have joint residential and legal custody of a child born of the marriage while they are married. With unmarried parents, the mother has sole legal and residential custody of the child until a finding of paternity is made and the father petitions the court for custody.
In some cases, it is necessary to establish paternity so that the child’s biological father becomes the legal father, too. This is easier if the parents are married, and unmarried parents need to take steps to establish paternity, especially in contested situations.
Establishment of paternity allows a father to enforce the right to be a part of his child’s life. Illinois law provides several ways for parents to establish paternity:
Establishing paternity may result in a legal battle in contested situations. Fortunately, there are now paternity tests available to establish facts and secure rights under the law.
Child custody issues are sensitive for everyone involved, and it’s natural for fathers to have questions and concerns. Here are some answers to questions our clients often ask:
Illinois divides child custody into legal custody and residential custody:
Too many fathers wind up going through an emotional, stressful custody battle in order to stay in contact with their children. Laws regarding parental rights and obligations are complicated, and if you make a mistake you will have to deal with the results for years.
The Illinois custody lawyers for fathers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are here to fight for your rights and for the best interests of your children. Whether you need to fight for custody, come up with a favorable parenting plan, establish paternity, modify a custody agreement, challenge a spouse’s move, or deal with any other father’s rights issues, we are here to help. We represent and advise clients in all types of father’s rights matters and have a long history of success.
Don’t delay. Call us for your free initial consultation today at 630-305-0222.