When Illinois parents breakup, some wonder if either parent is favored when it comes to child custody cases. Studies show that in 51% of custody decisions, both parents agree that the mother should be the primary custodial parent. This statistic may seem daunting to fathers seeking child custody. Instead of giving up, however, fathers should seek custody themselves. Many fathers think that custody will automatically go to the mother, so they don’t even try. This is a mistake. In reality, fathers are just as successful as mothers in child custody cases, but they don’t seek it as much as mothers do.
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What is Child Custody in Illinois and Who Gets It?
In Illinois, we no longer use the word custody. Now, Allocation Judgments are written, allocating each parent’s responsibility, including the parenting time each will receive.
An Allocation Judgment allocates each parent’s responsibility, so how will the court decide who takes the child to the doctor or gets to choose the doctor? Many times the court will look to see who is doing it now. If the father has primarily been the one taking the children in for check-ups, takes time off of work to pick up sick children from school, then it would be more likely that the father will be allocated the responsibility to deal with the children’s medical needs.
What about school? Who does the homework? Which parent is working until the children homework is already done? Again, the person who has primarily been doing this job will typically be allocated that job at the end of the case.
In the Allocation Judgment, parents are given the opportunity to allocate the responsibilities of parenting, including how much time each will spend with the child. Unlike the previous system where one parent was allowed to make all the decisions on behalf of the child (sole custody), parents today can allocate school decision making to one parent and medical decisions to the other. Or they can elect to jointly make all decisions. The Allocation Judgment allocates all aspects of the child’s life, including parenting time, formerly known as visitation.
Fathers Seeking Child Custody Can Prevail
In decades past, fathers in custody cases would not receive as much parenting time with their children because the mothers would primarily assume the child-rearing responsibilities. If fathers want equal parenting time, then they need to step up, before the case comes to court, to parent their child. Do you take your child in for doctor’s visits? Do you help prepare meals? Do you do homework with your child? These are common questions when deciding who has been more involved with the children.
Parenting isn’t who takes the children to Disneyland and buys the most presents. Parenting is changing the diapers, preparing meals and doing the laundry. If you want equal time with your child, then you need to do the hard work. A parent seeking equal parenting time needs to realize that this isn’t about them, it is about their child. If you don’t have the time, for whatever reason, to be involved with your child, then it is only fair for your child to have the best caretaker available.
Focus is on the Child’s Best Interests
Courts will look at various factors to determine what the child’s best interests are. They will take into consideration many factors such as the child’s wishes, each parent’s wishes, the distance between each parents’ home and the child’s school, and any possible violence or threat to the child. If it is in the child’s best interest to share the child’s time equally between the parents, then the court will order it. On the other hand, if it is in the child’s best interest to only see the child on the weekend, that will be the order. It will be your job to demonstrate to the court how you can act in your child’s best interest.
Contact a Chicago Family Law Attorney with Expertise in Child Custody Cases
If you have questions about custody or the allocation of parental rights, it is important to get advice from an attorney with significant experience in child custody cases. At Anderson Boback & Marshall, our Chicago family law firm has a long-standing record of success helping both mothers and fathers in a wide range of child-related cases. To schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced child custody lawyers, contact us today.