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Child custody battles reach across the nation

Child custody battles reach across the nation

Illinois has become the latest state to involve itself in a matter that has touched family law courts across the nation. For years, courts traditionally awarded child custody to the mother of children, unless she was deemed unfit for parenthood. This preference was based on gender-role assumptions of the past, where women often stayed home and men worked outside the home to bring in money. However, a change in gender roles - namely, that women are working outside the home more than before - has prompted some advocates to argue for a change in child custody laws.

In particular, many parents are arguing for fathers to have increased rights as parents. Many fathers are connected to children and are an important part of their lives. As more women are working, more men are sharing child care duties and forming stronger bonds with their children. A father in Illinois is backing proposed legislation that would promote shared custody in the courts and assign a minimum percentage of time a child needs to spend with each parent.

Studies have indicated that children seem to do well when raised by both parents, and these results have been used by proponents of the shift to argue for reformed custody laws. Those who are cautious about new legislation generally note that child custody issues depend on more than just a number, and that judges ought to simply take into account what's in the child's best interest.

For those who worry about receiving little to no child custody in a custody battle, it may be helpful to consult a lawyer with experience in divorce and family law. For many, legal proceedings surrounding custody can be emotionally fraught. Having a lawyer who can make a compelling argument for a larger share of custody may be an asset.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Illinois joins debate over child custody disputes", Bonnie Miller Rubin, June 01, 2014

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