For many divorced parents trying to juggle careers, child custody, and child support, finding the perfect balance can seem near-impossible, especially if there are disagreements that end up keeping parents in court. In the U.S., more than 80%of parents with primary custody are mothers. Is this because the courts favor women, even though, legally speaking, they are not supposed to? Is it harder for men to get a fair shake in custody cases?
In a recent CNN piece, one reporter spoke with fathers, in particular, who feel that the system has let them down simply because they are fathers. One claims that he spent time in jail because he could not pay court-ordered child support. Another said that he went bankrupt as a result of court-mandated child support payments. Still, another was barred from seeing his children due to a civil protection order. Not all of these stories involve divorce: Some men who fathered children outside of wedlock but who were not listed on the child’s birth certificate reportedly have a difficult time gaining equal custody rights to their children.
Below, we discuss how to avoid some of the most acrimonious outcomes if you are potentially facing any of these challenges:
Make Sure You Make Payments, Regardless of Amount
First and foremost, even if you can not pay all of your court-ordered child support, do not skip out on paying anything. Even if you can only pay a small amount of support each month, do it. Keep in mind that you can not ask to have your child support payments reduced unless you first get in front of a judge, and that is difficult to do if you are sitting in jail. Be politely persistent, and do not give up altogether. Child support is so important in our legal system that judges expect parents to do whatever they can to financially support their children.
Work With an Experienced Attorney
Also, keep in mind that communicating with a judge is ultimately going to be more successful if you are working with a lawyer to do so rather than handling things on your own. Judges often do not appreciate having to deal with individuals who do not know or practice in this area of law, locally.
If you are a parent who had a child out of wedlock and no legal papers have been signed, while the child’s mother starts out with custody, you can catch up by working with an attorney to file legitimation papers asking that you be established as the child’s legal father because it is in the child’s best interest.
Contact Our Illinois Family Law Attorneys
If you are dealing with child custody and/or support issues, contact our experienced Illinois family law attorneys today to find out how we can help.