As rigid adherence to traditional gender roles in the household continues to fade, more and more men in Illinois have become stay-at-home dads. In the event of divorce, most of these men are unsure of legal rights because historically the mother was the parent who stayed at home.
Even today, it is customary for a woman who stayed at home to care for children during the marriage to receive primary custody after divorce. She usually receives child support and alimony as well. Do stay-at-home dads receive the same advantageous treatment?
At the Rolling Meadows Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley, we are fighting to make sure that the answer to that question is "yes." We represent stay-at-home dads in communities like Arlington Heights, Palatine and Mt. Prospect who are concerned about what might happen in divorce. Over the course of nearly 20 years of family law practice, we have seen the uneven treatment stay-at-home dads receive in court. Some are happy with the outcome and others are devastated. We fight to ensure that our clients are treated fairly and that their relationships with their children remain healthy, as do their financial positions.
Stay-at-Home Dads Face Significant Economic Obstacles
If the wife is the breadwinner and she leaves, the husband faces the immediate risk of lack of funds. The couple may have had a joint checking account, but she might open her own account and begin depositing her checks into it. This leaves the man struggling to support himself, and struggling to find the means to pay his own lawyer to handle the divorce.
Alimony represents another hurdle. Permanent spousal support awards are increasingly rare, which means a stay-at-home dad who has been out of the workforce for years will most likely need to find a job, which is not easy in today's economy. He may need additional education or training to make himself marketable, a time investment that is tough to make if there are young children still in the house. In these situations, our Rolling Meadows law firm often advocates for "periodic maintenance." Essentially, this means the wife will pay spousal support until a certain event happens (such as the man attaining the needed education) or until the passage of a predetermined amount of time.
What About Child Custody?
Custody determinations are always made based on what is in the best interests of the child. In earlier times, it was presumed that young children should be with their mothers, but the law no longer views it that way. However, some judges may still harbor a tendency to award custody to the mother, questioning whether a stay-at-home dad can meet the financial needs of the children going forward.
Our firm's founder, attorney Donald J. Cosley, has handled these difficult issues for fathers before, and he can help you understand the potential outcomes of the custody phase of your divorce. We know that one of main reasons you became a stay-at-home dad in the first place is because you value your role in your child's life above all else. The thought of reducing or losing your involvement as a parent can be frightening. We want you to know that we are passionate about fathers' rights, and we will do everything we can to achieve an outcome that is healthy for you and your children.
Contact an Arlington Heights Child Custody and Fathers' Rights Attorney
We invite you to talk to a lawyer at the Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley to find out more about your rights as a stay-at-home dad. Please call 847-253-3100, or send us an email to schedule your free initial consultation. We serve clients in Barrington, Palatine, Arlington Heights and all surrounding communities.