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Do Illinois Courts Favor Mothers for Parenting Time & Responsibilities?

 Posted on September 01, 2016 in Divorce

Old laws, rumors, the news, and conventional wisdom all tell fathers they do not get as much time with their children as mothers when they have to establish a parenting agreement. Whether a dad is facing a divorce or was never married to his children’s mother, he may go into a parenting case thinking he has no chance of getting a significant amount of time with his kids. But this is not true.

Under Illinois law, moms and dads have the same chance of being awarded parenting time and responsibilities – both of which are based on the best interests of the child. If you are a father fighting for time with your children, contact the Chicago fathers’ rights attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation.

Old Doctrines No Longer Apply

Much of the belief that mothers are favored in custody battles over fathers is from old law. Across the U.S. there were often laws and legal theories known as the “maternal presumption” or the “tender years” doctrine. These heavily favored the mother for child custody and put the duty of financial support on the father. Many states, including Illinois, have moved away from these presumptions because it is clear they are not always in the best interests of the children.

New Law is Gender Neutral

The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, which rules how parentage can be established for non-married people, is as gender-neutral as possible to not favor one parent over the other. Both parents are responsible for the parent-child relationship, including physically, emotionally, and financially taking care of the child. This enables the child to have a relationship with both parents, regardless of anyone’s gender.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, established in 2016, contains the law on allocating parenting responsibilities and time. It too is gender neutral, looking at the best interests of the children in regard to where they live and who makes decisions for them.

Child’s Best Interests

The court can look at a variety of factors in determining the child’s best interests when establishing both parenting responsibilities and time, which do not have to be divided evenly or similarly. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act lays out key factors, including:

  • The wishes of the child, depending on his or her age and maturity
  • The parents’ wishes
  • The child’s current situation at home, school, and in a community
  • The distance between the parent’s homes and any transportation issues
  • The physical and mental health of all people involved
  • The ability of the parents to work together
  • The ability of the parents to share decision-making power
  • Any threats of physical violence toward the child
  • Any abuse previously directed at the child

When establishing parenting time, the court will also look at which parent has previously conducted certain caretaking functions in the previous 2 years or since the child’s birth.

A Father Can Fight

Even though Illinois laws attempt to be gender neutral, fathers still have to appear in court before judges who may hold more traditional viewpoints regarding parenting, particularly for young children. As a father, you have the right to see your children so long as there is not an exception, such as a history of violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or felony convictions. You do not have to settle for seeing your children only every other weekend.

The fathers’ rights attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. understand the difficulties fathers face during a divorce or in establishing parenting time when they are not married to the mother. Our attorneys have been protecting families and dads like you since 1979. We know the law and how to fight for your time with your children.

Call Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. at 630-961-0060 for a free consultation.

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