Some Illinois fathers may be concerned that they will be at a disadvantage in a divorce when it comes to child custody. In the past, in a divorce, mothers nearly always got custody. It was assumed that the father was primarily responsible for earning money and that the mother would stay home and care for the children. Courts assumed that the mother would be the best caregiver if the parents separated.
Fathers are more likely to be granted joint custody or even sole custody today, but they may still face bias in the courtroom. A judge may assume that a father doesn’t know how to care for children or is too busy. Courts may assume that it is the mother and not the father who has the ability to nurture.
Fathers can prepare for this by working with an attorney who also believes a father can be a good parent. The father may need to present proof of the relationship with the child and should show good communication with the mother. The father may also want to create a parenting plan. Courts make a decision based on the best interests of the child.
However, it is not always necessary to go to court to resolve child custody and visitation issues. Along with property division, this can be resolved through negotiation. Some parents find success with mediation. While litigation is adversarial, the focus in mediation is on finding a solution that suits all parties. Reaching an agreement outside of court also gives parents the opportunity to create a schedule that suits them and their children. Even if one parent has custody and the other parent has visitation, that does not mean the noncustodial parent only sees the child every other weekend. A noncustodial parent might still have ample time with the child.