This Sunday is Father's Day, a time to honor and celebrate dads and their important roles in their children's lives. Some fathers facing divorce might have some apprehension about the day, however. They worry that they might not be on equal footing with their spouse in a divorce.
A group of dads north of Peoria won't be spending Sunday unwrapping ties or hanging out with their kids. They will instead be protesting outside the courthouse, determined to alert passersby to the inequality that they say pervades child custody decisions.
The rally in Janesville, Wisconsin, will be about 160 miles north of Peoria. The organizer says he is motivated by unfair deference to mothers in child custody disputes. He says mothers get custody 80 percent of the time, which is "not OK," he said. "It's the children who suffer. Fatherless children (are) the cause of a lot of problems in our society."
He and his fellow fathers' rights advocates say they want legislators to enact laws that make custody gender-neutral. In Illinois, judges are required to determine child custody matters based on the best interests of the children. Both a mother and a father can request child custody here.
In many situations, parents going through a divorce will decide that joint parenting will be best for both their children and for them. That decision requires the father and mother, and their family law attorneys, to then work out the details of a workable joint parenting plan.
The rally organizer said he and other protesters simply want equality in custody matters. He said he has experienced the pain of inequality in his own divorce, and that "it hurts. . .big time."
One of the first steps to take in a divorce is to speak with a Peoria family law attorney experienced in helping clients protect their children and protect their parental rights.