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Bill seeks to equalize parents in child custody hearings

Some Rockford fathers may have a particular fear when heading into a hearing regarding the custody of one or more of their children. That fear is that a judge will automatically assume that the children should stay with their mother, leaving the father with sometimes meager visitation rights or the burden of proof as to why he should have anything greater. This fear is not without a basis in history.

Recently, however, an Illinois State Representative has introduced legislation intended to put both parents on more equal footing in a child custody matter. The Shared Parenting bill would require that a judge begin under the assumption that a balance of time with both of the child's parents is the best solution to a custody dispute, rather than assuming that one parent (often, the mother) is the best choice by default.

The court would still have to thoroughly evaluate each parent in coming to a decision. The bill would also require that, after ruling on child custody, a judge provide a written explanation of the factors underlying the ruling, or how the ruling was made. This step would bring some transparency to the process, perhaps eliciting a more thoughtful decision.

A number of local fathers' rights groups in Illinois have expressed support for the bill. A family law professional can also provide a valuable source of support for fathers with questions or concerns about their rights in a child custody hearing, whether they be related to paternity, visitation rights, or other issues.

Source: CBS St. Louis, "Illinois Wants to Keeps Dads Involved After Divorce," Nov. 14, 2017

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