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For Fathers, How Likely Is Obtaining Custody?

For Fathers, How Likely Is Obtaining Custody?

By M. Scott Gordon

Fathers are perceived to routinely get the short end of the stick in custody battles. However, the truth is somewhat different in this day and age – over time, the balance has become far more equal. Fathers have learned what courts look for when seeking to establish a custody arrangement, and it is always a good idea to understand the best approach to ensure you receive time with your children.

The Historical Evolution of Custody

In the past, physical custody was almost always awarded to the mother. Women were held to be better parents as a matter of anthropology, being cast as ‘nurturers’ while men were the family breadwinners. Over time, however, the statistics show that cultural mores changed. Studies in the recent five years show a nearly equal proportion of custody cases being settled in favor of the mother and the father. In some jurisdictions, custody has actually been awarded more often to the father for some time. Studies out of Massachusetts in the 1990s show that in 2,100 cases where fathers actively sought some form of custody, they were successful 93% of the time, with almost 30% of the cases ending in primary physical custody being given to the father.

In Illinois nowadays, courts generally presume that either the mother or the father can be a successful custodial parent unless there is clear evidence of abuse – in other words, there is no presumption toward either parent.

Factors Considered In Family Court

Illinois courts determine custody by considering a number of factors, and many of them are within a father’s ability to control. If you desire a good relationship with your children, you must take steps to assert your legal rights if you were not mentioned on their birth certificate. If this is the case, you must either register with the Illinois Putative Father Registry or sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP). Without having done either of those, you have essentially no legal rights to see your children.

It is always a good idea to be an active and involved parent, but it is especially imperative when faced with a custody battle, because the judge will consider the relationship a child has with both of his or her parents. If you have legal standing to contest custody, you must be able to show that you can provide an environment in which your child will thrive. Some of the factors that a family court judge will consider in determining custody are:

  • The wishes of the respective parents;
  • The wish of the child (if of an age to have a mature opinion);
  • The status of the relationship between the parents (generally, the courts look more favorably on a parent who is willing to negotiate and engage with their spouse than one who is hostile and standoffish);
  • The child’s state of mind and body in their current situation;
  • The mental, emotional and physical health of everyone involved; and
  • Many other factors.

A father who wants custody, or at the very least, a favorable arrangement, should be able to demonstrate their ability to give their children a high quality of life, and to work with their former spouse to iron out any problems.

A Family Law Attorney Can Help
Despite historical difficulty in obtaining custody, divorced dads can definitely get a favorable arrangement from the courts if they know how to approach the issue. The tenacious Chicagoland fathers’ rights attorneys at M. Scott Gordon & Associates will work hard to help you increase your odds of winning custody or the best parenting agreement for you, for your former spouse, and most importantly, for your children. Contact our Chicago or Skokie offices today to discuss your options. We serve the entirety greater Chicago area.