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Bias against fathers often plays out in child-custody decisions

Bias against fathers often plays out in child-custody decisions

Date: December 19, 2013

Like elsewhere in the country, when an Illinois family law court deals with the aftermath of a divorce, judges always consider the best interests of the child when deciding which parent will be in daily charge of a child’s life. One parent may be awarded sole custody, and the other parent may be limited to scheduled visitation. In some cases, judges suggest co-parenting, so that parents can proactively work together to benefit their children every day.

According to one writer, a father who raises his children by himself, society views fathers as less effective parents than mothers, who are largely still seen as the only parent who can provide a nurturing environment for her children. The writer further asserts that fathers are subject to “unquestioned discrimination” when it comes to child custody and related issues. Society should be adapting more quickly to the changes that are rapidly reshaping the American family structure, he says.

Data show that almost 50 percent of American families experience divorce. As a result, some children do not have their fathers in their lives as much as they would like. Some children come to feel emotionally deprived by their fathers’ absence. Society should begin seeing and treating fathers and mothers as equals. Both parents are capable of providing loving and caring environments.

In handling child-custody issues, parents can talk over issues through collaborative law or mediation, which takes a final decision out of the hands of a judge. Both parents thus create a settlement that benefits their children.

When it comes to co-parenting, however, parents should understand that each case is unique. Any history of domestic violence can become a factor in decisions about custody and visitation.

Understanding these issues and how best to handle them can be difficult when emotions run on high. Thus, parents have a choice. They may choose to handle their child-custody case alone or seek help from a family law attorney.

Source: Huffingtonpost.com, “When it comes to custody, it’s a woman’s world,” Rabbi Abraham, December 10, 2013

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