Being a parent post-divorce can seem like a scary prospect, especially for men who were used to sharing parental responsibilities with their wife. Because of this fear and the belief that courts always favor mothers in child custody negotiations, many men are reluctant to pursue anything more than visitation rights with their kids.
Male readers should know that Illinois courts and Illinois laws strive to keep both parents involved in their children’s lives whenever possible. And when it comes to primary custody decisions, the law prohibits courts from using gender as a determining factor.
So we’ve covered the legal matters concerning fathers’ rights in child custody. But what about the other concern: Learning to parent without the “safety net” that your former spouse used to provide?
A recent guest column in Washington Post Magazine was written by a man named Jim Sollisch. His children are now grown, but he divorced his wife when the kids were quite young. He talks about how initially scary and foreign it felt to unilaterally make parenting decisions without his ex-wife.
Sollisch soon discovered, however, that being a divorced parent offered him freedom from distraction and an escape from what he calls “mommy culture.” In short, this is the assumption that women have the final say in most household rules (which is understandable due to the societal pressures they face to be perfect moms). Sollisch explained that “shared parenting gave me a chance to adjust the default and to develop more fully as a father.”
His point was not to promote divorce or to criticize mothers. Rather, Sollisch wanted to share how adjusting to the hardships of divorce helped him become a more present and involved father to his kids.
If you are a father facing divorce and worried about custody and parenting issues, you’re not alone. The good news is that you can learn to survive and even thrive as a single parent. Before that can happen, however, you will need to assert your custody and visitation rights. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the process.
Source: The Washington Post, “One upside to the divorce I didn’t want: Freedom to parent without the mom rules,” Jim Sollisch, Jan. 9, 2015