The notion of “father’s rights attorneys” is more of just a marketing term than a specialized practice of law. But that begs a second question: What do folks who market themselves as “father’s rights attorneys” actually do?
For decades, the courts were biased toward mothers when determining custody disputes. This left some fathers paying child support but only able to see their children once every other weekend. The mother did not have to make any special allegations against the father to produce this result. If the father wanted to have more time with the children, he would have to bargain with the mother to make those arrangements.
There are other cases in which disputes between parent’s balloon into accusations in a zero-sum game. Fathers often were disadvantaged in these cases because the courts believed that younger children need to be with their mothers rather than with their fathers. The courts believe that consistency is important to children. Children will not be moved from one home to another unless there is good cause or the child is old enough to decide where they want to live. This creates a situation where fathers can be systematically disadvantaged by the courts. Is this still a major concern?
Yes. Fathers who want a significant portion of parenting time and decision-making responsibility often have an uphill battle ahead of them. Attitudes toward gender roles will differ from state to state and even county to county, but by and large, fathers remain in a disadvantaged position when arguing for custody.
Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Parents
Any divorce or family lawyer has a duty to represent the best interests of their client. The court makes custody decisions based on the best interests of the children—not the parents. Since consistency is a major concern for children, whatever is happening right now is likely to continue into the future. A parent would have to prove that the children are in danger in their current situation to get it changed. This works both ways; it can be difficult for a mother without parenting time to get that situation changed. She may be able to advocate for why she deserves it, but the courts are unlikely to remove children from a good situation unless it is in their best interests.
While fathers may be disadvantaged in this system, it remains distinctly possible for fathers with a history of substance abuse, mental illness, or even anger management issues to get visitation rights to see their children. The circumstances may be quite limiting at first, but those who show a commitment to improving their own lives are often successful in court.
Talk to a Chicago Family Law and Custody Attorney Today
If you need representation for a divorce or child support matter in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.