For Fathers’ Day, on June 15th some newspapers ran similar articles on changing expectations from divorced dads regarding child custody arrangements. According to one article, more divorced men are rejecting traditional but unbalanced child support and child custody arrangements of years past that award a large amount of parenting time to the mothers. These trends follow recent studies highlighting the important role active fathers, whether divorced or not, play in a child’s development and emotional well-being.
Legislators in some states have already taken notice and reworded statutes to put fathers, who were traditionally assigned secondary caregiving roles, on more equal footing. For example, some states have refined terms like joint and physical custody to terms like “parenting time,” which ultimately draw custody divisions in less black and white terms. Another article suggests that a reason for the shift towards more involved fathers comes due to the personal experiences of judges and other legal professionals. On this view, family law judges and other legal professionals are more empathetic to life for divorced families since many of them have come from divorced families themselves.
Going along with this trend, some sources report that custody arrangements have been changing in family courts. One such study, which focused on Wisconsin family court records from 1986 to 2008, reported that mothers receiving sole custody of children dropped from 80 to 42 percent; shared custody increased from five to 27 percent; and unequal shared custody increased from five to 27 percent.
Illinois Law and Child Custody
Illinois has not been mentioned in these types of articles as one of the most progressive states regarding egalitarian child custody. However, it is possible to obtain a fairly equal parenting time schedule during child custody proceedings in Illinois. Illinois recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody describes a parent’s ability to make important decisions in the child’s life, such as where she goes to school and what medical care she receives. It is fairly common for parents to share equal legal custody of a child.
The other type of custody Illinois law recognizes is physical custody. Physical custody refers to with whom the child stays from day-to-day. Under Illinois law it is possible to have sole or shared physical custody of a child. Once parents agree to the general premise that shared custody is appropriate and work out a schedule describing the child’s time spent with each parent, a family law judge may review and approve the joint custody schedule. A joint custody schedule is different from a visitation schedule. Shared physical custody works best when parents can interact productively and civilly with one another on a sustained basis because most shared custody agreements involve a lot of “hand off” time between parents.
If you are a party to a divorce and child custody proceeding in DuPage County or surrounding areas, and would like to retain legal counsel to represent you, or even if you are simply seeking advice on a few questions, we encourage you to contact our knowledgeable child custody attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. today. We can be reached through this online contact form or via telephone at (877) 889-4515.