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Illinois fathers fight for equal child custody rights

Each year, divorcing couples in the Peoria area head to court to fight over custody of minor-aged children. In many cases, each parent is desperately seeking to be awarded as much time as possible with their children. However, even in cases where a father has and wants to continue to play a major role in raising his children, when it comes to child custody matters, judges across the state of Illinois are prone to siding with a mother.

One father, who went through a bitter three-year child custody battle in 2003, is among those who argue changes are needed when it comes to how the majority of Illinois child custody cases are determined.

While family law judges in Illinois and many other states contend they make child custody decisions based on what is in a child's best interest, often their decisions fail to take into consideration the critical role a father plays in a child's life.

Gone are the days when the majority of women stayed home to raise children. For decades now, women have been pursuing higher educational degrees and excelling in the job market. As a result, many of the parenting responsibilities previously fulfilled by a mother are today shared equally between parents.

Indeed, many fathers throughout Illinois and the U.S. take great pride and pleasure in participating in child-rearing responsibilities. What's more, numerous research studies prove that children of divorce fare better when both parents continue to be heavily involved in their lives.

Current proposed Illinois legislation aims to encourage family law judges to consider granting joint custody when determining child custody matters. While factors such as substance abuse and domestic violence must always be taken into consideration, in cases where both parents have been active in raising a child, proponents of the measure argue each parent should retain that right post-divorce.

Illinois parents who are going through a divorce where child custody is an issue or who want to seek a modification to an existing child custody agreement, likely have many questions. It's wise to consult with an attorney who has successfully negotiated favorable child custody agreements and obtained modifications.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Illinois joins debate over child custody disputes," Bonnie Miller, June 1, 2014

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