In many divorces, the question of whom will care for the children is a major decision. Child custody determinations can be very contentious, for a variety of reasons. This tends to be the case in situations where both parents show a strong interest in wanting to raise the children. However, even though custody decisions can be contentious, they are also very important.
One study has found that fathers have increasingly showed interest in obtaining custody of their children over the last few decades. Years ago, it was almost assumed that the mother would get custody of the children in a divorce. However, the study found that the number of single fathers who have custody of their children has risen by 7% since 1960. One attorney says that part of this trend is due to the fact that society accepts the role of a single father to a greater degree than it did years ago. A judge also thinks that part of this trend is because many more women have high-powered jobs, which changes the dynamic of the family structure from years past.
No matter whether both parents are seeking custody of the children or not, the best interest of the children is always the main focus. The court looks at many factors when making that determination, such as who has cared for the children in the past and who is more available to care for the children. They also have to make decisions regarding legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who makes decisions regarding the child's upbringing and physical custody determines where the child will live most of the time. Whether the parents will have sole or joint custody also must be addressed.
For both mothers and fathers in Illinois who want custody of their children following a divorce, the decision can be very difficult. It is possible to come to a child custody agreement prior to having a judge decide. However, if a judge has to make the decision, the best interest of the child will always guide the decision.
Source: KBTX, "Study: more single fathers fighting for custody" David Norris, Nov. 12, 2013