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Women support effort for equal custody arrangements

This Father's Day, a group called Leading Women for Shared Parenting is officially launching its efforts to make equally shared parenting rights a reality in the United States and Canada. But the group already has many members who are drawing attention to the issue, including congresswomen from both parties, lawyers, social workers, mothers, sisters, daughters and wives.

While equal parenting time arrangements is often considered a fathers' rights issue, this female-led group says it is time that both parties get on board. While the advocacy group is made up of women from both ends of the political spectrum, they all have one thing in common: They believe that children fare better when they have equal access to both parents following a divorce or break-up.

According to a 2010 study by Arizona State University, it is actually quite common for women to support the notion of equally shared custody. The study found that when presented with hypotheticals regarding child custody arrangements following a divorce, both men and women were likely to recommend an equally shared custody arrangement between the parents.

This marks a big change from decades ago, when mothers were typically awarded primary custody and fathers were given weekend visitation rights. However, many family law courts around the nation have been slow to catch on with the changing beliefs. In many custody cases today, parents "share" custody of their children, but mothers still end up with much more parenting time.

In Illinois, the law is gender neutral, which means that both the father and mother have equal rights to request custody of children in a divorce proceeding. Even so, dads who are worried about losing access to their children following a divorce should take a pro-active approach to the matter and work with a family law attorney who has experience with fathers' rights cases.

Source: Star Tribune, "Rosenblum: Divorced dads get big gift from fired-up moms," Gail Rosenblum, June 8, 2013

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