Bias against fathers was one of the themes of a gathering of divorce parents in Lake County on Friday in Waukegan. The event, organized by a group called Illinois for Parental Equality, was aimed at raising awareness of parental rights and promoting reform in the family court system so that divorced fathers have more access to their children.
It is well established nowadays that having a continued relationship with both parents after divorced is ordinarily best for children. This is why it is unfortunate that over the past five years the rate of children who live without their father has been at 27.5 percent, a number which is significantly higher than it was 50 years ago.
In divorce, both parents have parental rights, and both parents need to fight to ensure those rights are protected for the best interests of their children. We have previously spoken on this blog about changes made to state law which went into effect earlier this year. Those changes were largely changes in language, and aimed at a different way of talking and thinking about the care of children after divorce. Among the changes was a newfound focus on parenting time and parental responsibility rather than custody.
Part of what makes custody issues difficult to deal with is that it is not always clear what parenting schedule is in the best interests of the children. In many cases, both parents may be fit to care for the children, but without some sort of cooperation between the parents it can be difficult to come up with an optimal arrangement.
Neither fathers nor mothers, of course, are supposed to face bias in the custody process. When they do, they should be sure to work with an experienced attorney to ensure their rights are represented. In a future post, we’ll look at some of the work of Illinois for Parental Equality and how an experienced advocate can help fathers to put their best foot forward in court.