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Divorced fathers still struggling for equal time with children

On behalf of Janet Boyle of Boyle Feinberg Sharma posted in Child Custody on Monday, April 18, 2016.

Despite the stereotype of divorced fathers as lazy and uncaring, many Illinois fathers may want and be granted equal time with and responsibility for their children. However, even with a court order in place that allows them visitation or joint custody rights, some fathers in Illinois may struggle to get time with their children.

They might still find that at school conferences and other situations their input is considered less important than the mother’s. One man who was granted the right to attend school functions and medical appointments received an email from his ex-wife saying she did not have to tell him when they happened.

Other fathers might not be granted joint custody and may fight to just get two weekends each month with their children. Mothers might also use loopholes to deny fathers extra time in the case of special circumstances such as Father’s Day. Children might even be forbidden from attending the father’s wedding or might not be allowed extra time with a father who has been away on deployment. Often, mothers do this because they are afraid of losing their children altogether, but the effect on fathers can be devastating.

Fathers’ rights are slowly improving, and courts are more likely to grant joint or even sole physical custody to a father than in previous decades. However, fathers may still face a battle. Even if the divorce is high in conflict, they might first try mediation to work out their differences with the other parent. In mediation, they may be able to come up with a detailed parenting plan that spells out some of the special circumstances as well as a method for resolving differences that arise. However, if this kind of negotiation is impossible, the father may need to go to court. It may be to the father’s advantage that contact with both parents is usually considered in the child’s best interests.