In the past, there was a presumption that after a divorce, children should go with the mother. Over the years, fathers and advocates have pushed for equal parenting time. Now, most states have done away with the parenting presumption for women over men. However, mothers are still more likely to have significantly more parenting time after a divorce than fathers.
A study from Arizona State University has shown that overnight parenting time with fathers benefits children, fathers, and does no harm to the mother-child relationship. “It actually appeared to benefit children's relationships with both their mothers and their fathers,” said the lead author of the study, William Fabricius.
“Children who had overnights with their fathers when they were infants and toddlers had higher-quality relationships with their fathers as well as with their mothers when they were 18 to 20 years old than children who had no overnights.”
Benefits include having the father get more involved in parenting in the child's early years. This also helps fathers and children learn more about each other and establish a closer bond that “provides a foundation for their future relationship.” Mothers may also benefit by having some time off from full-time single parenting.
Fathers across the country are continuing to fight the presumption that mothers should get more parenting time. In Oregon, Senate Bill 550 was introduced to encourage equal parenting time. “Equal parenting time for both parents is in the best interest of the child,” said Alexander Malloy, with Southern Oregon Father's Rights. “As it stands right now the courts are incentivized to limit one parent over the other.”
In the Illinois General Assembly, House Bill 5425 has been introduced to amend parenting laws to include, “the involvement of each parent for equal time and not less than 35% of residential parenting time per week is presumptively in the children's best interests.” However, the bill has been stuck in committee and adjourned indefinitely.
According to Alan Boudreau, who professor at Northern Illinois University's College of Law in DeKalb, one reason for the shift towards father's rights in recent years is because many of the lawyers and judges involved in custody disputes come from homes of divorce.
“These were children of divorce at a time when the presumption was very much that the mother would stay in the marital home and pretty much have full custody of the kids, and the father would have visitation and maybe some overnights,” said Boudreau. “I think those kids, when divorcing, want a different experience for their kids than they had.”
If you are seeking equal parenting time after a divorce, you should speak with an experienced Illinois family law attorney. There still may be a presumption in the minds of many that the mother should have primary parenting time. We can help you and your family develop a parenting plan that is satisfactory to both parents and is in the best interests of the child. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the equal treatment they deserve.