Illinois one of the worst states for fathers’ custody rights

Article provided by Jeffery M. Leving

In child custody cases, courts are supposed to put the best interests of the child front and center. In many cases, unfortunately, that results in dated stereotypes driving child custody decisions, such as the notion that children are better off with their mothers than their fathers. Despite the fact that plenty of research has shown that children actually do much better behaviorally and psychologically if they maintain meaningful relationships with both parents, fathers are often at a disadvantage in custody hearings because of gender stereotypes. A new study confirms that Illinois is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to the amount of time fathers get to spend with their children following a divorce.

Illinois fourth-worst in the country

As the Chicago Tribune reports, a recent study by Utah-based Custody X Change ranked states by the percentage of custody time each parent gets on average after a divorce. The study looked only at cases where both parents wanted custody of the child and where there were no extenuating circumstances, such as one parent having a criminal record or the parents living long-distance from one another. In other words, cases where parenting time should have been more equal.

The study found that children in Illinois spend just 23.1 percent of their time each year with their fathers, which is the fourth-lowest amount of custody time children spend with their fathers in the entire country. Only in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee did children spend less custody time with their dads.

Illinois could look to neighbors

Those rather depressing results aren't entirely surprising. Prejudices against fathers in child custody hearings still persist, which has resulted in many states passing laws that encourage more equal parenting time. As Illinois News Network reports, a bill is currently being debated by Illinois lawmakers that would make co-parenting presumptively in the child's best interests.

While Illinois has a rather poor record when it comes to child custody time for fathers, some of its neighbors have done exceptionally well on the issue. The study singled out Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kentucky as being among the states that have managed to give fathers 50 percent parenting time with their children after divorce on average.

Family law for fathers

Divorce is always tough, but for fathers who are also worried about whether they can still maintain a healthy and meaningful relationship with their children the experience can be especially hard. That is why fathers who are concerned about their parenting rights need to talk to a family law attorney who specializes in fathers' rights. An experienced attorney can help clients understand what rights they have and how to go about negotiating a divorce and child custody agreement that works best for their situation.