Every year, thousands of American couples make the difficult decision to pursue a divorce. A divorce can represent an opportunity to start a new and independent life. However, when children are involved, the divorce process can be incredibly tense. For fathers, a divorce can be frightening, considering the overwhelming statistical evidence that the majority of sole-custody parents are mothers. If you are looking to secure significant parental responsibilities as a father, you need quality legal assistance.
Securing Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities
Due to recent changes in Illinois’ state law, child custody is now referred to as the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” While both parents will typically receive some amount of “parenting time” (as long as there are no issues regarding domestic abuse or other criminal activity), one parent may still be the primary residential parent. As a father, it is important to understand the steps you need to take in order to remain a primary figure in your child’s life, including:
Be Engaged: Under the new state law, the courts in Illinois can grant a parent decision-making rights regarding four primary subjects: religion, education, health, and extracurricular activities. In order to have an opportunity to either reach an agreement with your former spouse or be awarded the rights in these areas, it is important for you to be highly engaged in your children’s lives.
Maintain a relationship with your child’s teachers, and know their favorite subjects, and whether they are performing well academically. Take a vested interest in your child’s nutritional health and extracurricular activities. Since fathers can sometimes be negatively stigmatized as unengaged parents, you will likely want to go the extra mile to instead wind up being closely involved with your children.
Work With Your Former Spouse: In many cases, the best way to solve disputes over parental responsibilities is through cooperative discussions between the two parents. If you and your ex-spouse can work together to develop a parenting agreement that works for both of you, the odds are high that you will be able to spend significant amounts of time with your children after your divorce.
Moreover, working through this process with your former spouse can help the two of you build a solid foundation for your new relationship as parenting partners. Children deserve to have a relationship with both of their parents, and a fantastic way of ensuring this is through working with your ex-spouse, rather than relying on a court process to make the decisions for you.
Be Financially Responsible: As you look to secure significant parental responsibilities, it is important for you to be able to prove your financial stability. If decisions regarding parental responsibilities are ultimately made by the court, your ability to provide for your child will play a meaningful role in this process. On the other hand, as a father, it may be more difficult for you to be granted receiving child support payments in the event that you are named the primary resident parent. Only 31.4% of custodial fathers in the United States currently have a child support payment plan in place.
If your former spouse is named the primary residential parent, and you are asked to provide child support, it is important for you to make these payments in full and on time. Keep in mind, however, that post-decree modifications can be made to the parenting agreement, and in that regard, if you look to obtain more parental responsibilities or parenting time in the future, having met your previous child support obligations can help you demonstrate your ability to provide for your children.
Contact an Oak Park Child Custody Lawyer
Dealing with issues surrounding child custody can be incredibly emotional. Fortunately, an experienced divorce attorney can assist you a great deal in securing the parental responsibilities and parenting time you desire. At the Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C., we are prepared to skillfully advocate for the time you deserve with your child. To schedule a complimentary consultation with a Hillside, IL family law attorney who has over 31 years of courtroom experience, contact us today at 708-749-7400.