Father’s Rights in Child Custody and Divorce Cases

The term “father rights” is often informally used in connection with a divorce or child custody cases in Illinois.  This article addresses father’s rights and the state of the law in Iowa and Illinois insofar as the gender of a parent is concerned.

Beginning in the 1960’s and continuing to today, the father’s right movement has focused on obtaining equal parenting rights for fathers when there is a divorce or custody case.  For decades, the courts in many states favored the mother over the father in terms of matters relating to the care of child.  The result was that mothers often prevailed in custody matters simply because they were female.

The modern view, used by courts in both Iowa and Illinois, does not give a preference to either mother or father based upon their gender.  Instead, the law states that courts are to make custody and physical care determinations in the best interest of the child.  The custody factors in Iowa and custody factors in Illinois, while different from each other in some ways, are remarkably similar insofar as how they look to previous parental involvement, expected future parental involvement, ability to care for the child, and other such important facts.

Despite all of that, there exists a belief on the part of some people in Iowa and Illinois that the mother will necessarily win in custody cases.  That belief is inaccurate, misguided, and downright harmful to both mothers and fathers.  As an attorney who has handled a great many custody cases in each state, I know of plenty of times that the father has been awarded primary care or sole legal custody of the child or children, as the Iowa District Courts and Illinois Circuit Courts properly apply the law and do not play favorites based upon gender.  Rather, it is the facts of the case and the evidence that is presented that carries the day.

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Everyone who is dealing with a custody case, regardless of their gender, should recognize that the law does not favor either gender.  Instead, the courts will look to what is best for the child, which means it is important to properly and promptly handle cases where child custody is at issue.