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Changing views on fathers’ rights in child custody cases

Changing views on fathers' rights in child custody cases

Fathers in Chicago who are going through a divorce may be concerned about how often they will get to see their children after they separate from their spouses. Traditionally, family law courts have tended to favor mothers as the primary caretakers, giving fathers only weekend and holiday visitation. Lawmakers are beginning to consider whether it might be better for children to spend equal amounts of time with both parents.

The head of the National Parents Organization, a fathers' rights group, says that children are better adjusted and perform better in school when they see each parent frequently. He believes that legislation should favor joint custody, so long as both parents are capable of managing it.

Other people believe that laws enforcing a 50-50 joint custody standard are problematic. In cases where one parent moves far away from the other following a divorce, ensuring that a child spends equal time with both parents may be a logistical nightmare. Even if two parents continue to live close to each other, there may be problems sharing joint custody if the parents do not get along. Parents may end up violating court orders or fighting with each other in front of their children. For these reasons, the State Bar of South Dakota had for a long time opposed joint parenting laws.

Recently, the State Bar of South Dakota worked out a compromise and helped pass legislation in the Senate that would call on judges to merely consider joint custody and weigh a variety of factors, rather than having the legal presumption be one of joint custody. Although Illinois is not listed as a state that is developing joint custody legislation, overall changing attitudes may still inspire some Chicago fathers to seek joint or even sole physical custody. Parents who have questions or concerns about child custody may want to speak with a family attorney. Family law attorneys may be able to even help parents reach a settlement before going to court.

Source: WBUR, "Push To Change Custody Laws: What's Best For Kids?", Jennifer Ludden, February 26, 2014

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