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Rights of fathers in custody cases

Rights of fathers in custody cases

Illinois parents who are going through a divorce may not know that the attitude of courts has shifted in recent decades toward increased fathers' rights. While some high-profile cases have appeared in the news of celebrities who are not married to the mothers of their children fighting for custody, in cases where the parents are married to one another, consideration tends to be given to the more stable parent and the best interests of the child regardless of gender.

Increasingly, states are moving toward a model of joint custody. Many studies back this up. As an example, a Wisconsin survey showed that from 1996 to 2007, the cases in which sole custody was awarded to the mother went from 60.4 percent to 45.7 percent while the number of joint custody resolutions doubled. Mothers also increasingly pay child support. One growing trend is a focus on the parent who seems most able to compromise and smooth out a potentially contentious relationship with the other spouse.

There are two categories of fathers who may still face some extra hurdles. One is the poorer father. These fathers may end up a cycle of debt they cannot surmount, and it may be worthwhile to consult with an attorney to discuss fathers' rights in such a case. The other is the case of the unmarried father. These fathers may be in a much more challenging position when it comes to securing custody rights to their children.

Men may wish to begin considering these issues before they become fathers and particularly the complications that arise with an unmarried partner. A consultation with an attorney may highlight some of the potential issues from paternity testing to ensuring access to the child.

Source: Slate, "Dad’s Day in Court", Hanna Rosin, May 13, 2014

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