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Fatherless Day: A day when fathers’ rights take center stage

Fatherless Day: A day when fathers' rights take center stage

Once a year, a day comes when we take time to honor and remember the fathers among us. We call it Father's Day. This Father's Day, some fathers were fortunate. They were able to spend the day with their children, reveling in their role of father. Others wound up spending the day alone, wishing they could be with their children -- not because they wanted to be away from them but because they weren't allowed to be with them.

Many assume that if a father isn't playing a large role in his children's lives, it's because he's chosen not to be there -- that he'd rather be somewhere else doing other things. For some, that's true; they walked out and left everything behind. They didn't want to be around. But it isn't true for all. Many -- more than one might suspect, in fact -- have been forced out of their children's lives by relationship breakups they didn't want and vindictive ex-spouses who want to keep them away.

Situations like that are what fathers' rights groups across the country decided to draw attention to this year by observing a day they dubbed "Fatherless Day." Throughout the week leading up to Father's Day, various groups from coast to coast gathered in their state capitals in an effort to draw attention to the struggles many non-custodial fathers go through. A group called Illinois Fathers gathered outside the Capitol in Springfield earlier this month.

Illinois state law requires courts to base custody and visitation decisions on what is considered to be best for the child, and studies indicate that spending time with both parents is what's usually best. Yet many fathers feel like they've never been given a fair chance from the family court system -- that they've been dismissed and marginalized from the outset.

If you're in a situation where you're being denied a role in your children's lives, you can contact an attorney and find out what your rights are in terms of child custody and visitation.

Source: Illinois Times, "Fatherless Day," Jacqueline Muhammad, June 13, 2013

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