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The evolution of fathers and their parental responsibilities

The father’s role in their children’s lives has significantly evolved. Yet, state family laws that divide parenting responsibilities seem to be stuck in the time of black and white sitcoms where dad left for the “salt mines” every day while mom stayed home.

Even today, the assumption continues that the father may not know best.

Illinois family law does not presume that the best interests of the children are served with a 50-50 division of parental responsibilities. Judges have flexibility to award sole, joint or other types of arrangements.

Founder of Dads Can Too is a newly established organization that is focused on single fathers having more involvement in the lives of their children. The group is lobbying for changes in the law and the handling of how courts divide parental responsibilities. The group wants an even split to be the presumption in parental responsibility cases unless it can be proven otherwise.

Illinois Fathers is pursuing a similar agenda to improve the chances divorced dads have in parental responsibility arrangements. Founded in 2008, the organization believes that current Illinois family law is stuck in the 1950s. They too want fathers on an even playing field when it comes to equal time and decision-making responsibilities.

Supporters of the current law see problems with an equal split of parental responsibilities. They believe that the current “best interests of the children” benchmark works because sons and daughters are not switching from one residence to the other. Simply stated, the current way of doing thing provides children with their most basic need: one place that they can call home.

Proponents also claim that equal parental responsibility schedules require extraordinary cooperation that often does not occur. Disputes between parents can result in little, if any teamwork vital to facilitate 50-50 agreements. They suspect that when certain parents claim to focus on their children’s best interests, they are putting themselves first.

While organizations exist to further the cause of divorced parents, individual fathers and mothers should pursue the parental responsibility arrangement best suited for them while finding ways to coexist for the sake of their children.

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Goddard & Malmquist
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