Suffragette should inspire men in pushing for fathers’ rights

Susan B. Anthony was a woman of passion, politics and rights. In the 1860s she became a leader for women’s suffrage in the United States. Among her initiatives was a newspaper that carried the masthead, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less;” the message being justice for all, regardless of gender.

It might seem odd to draw on the memory of this giant of women’s rights to talk about the rights of fathers. But as any experienced family law attorney in the Peoria area will surely attest, she does reflect how sometimes you have to be willing to act to secure the rights to which you are entitled.

For example, it has long been a common assumption among unwed and married fathers that there are limits to what they can expect in terms of custody and visitation access to their children. The expectation is that mother will be the main custodian and father will bear the lion’s share of financial support.

These days, the laws of many states, including in Illinois, take a gender-neutral stance on custody and support. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the equal rights father and mother might expect are going to be automatically granted by the court.

To strike the appropriate balance (which should be framed by what is in the best interests of the child), fathers need to be prepared to press for their rights. The way this might play out in the real world might involve being proactive. Does your child play a sport? Take the initiative to call the coach for the game schedule. Want to know how your child is doing in school? Ask the school to send you a copy of grades.

In short, you need to be ready to advocate on your own behalf. But you don’t have to do it all by yourself. By enlisting the help of an experienced legal team it is possible to identify your options and craft a plan for how to achieve an outcome that comes closest to what you want.

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