While fathers have always played an important role in the upbringing and development of children, they have not always been treated as such by the courts. This was often due to the assignment of traditional gender roles. Further, it was originally thought that the mother was more critical in the child’s early years. Yet, as time passed, fathers began to gain some important recognition in the lives of their children. The composition of families also started to change. Now there are fathers who stay home with their children and mothers who work outside of the home. Does this necessarily affect the allocation of parental responsibilities or assignment of parenting time in divorce though? It is possible but not guaranteed.
How Child-Related Matters Are Determined
In Illinois, divorcing parents are permitted to negotiate an agreement regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time details of their case. Generally, this offers numerous benefits for families, including the freedom to create a parenting plan that is more tailored to their family’s specific needs. For example, if the couple feels the child and family would benefit most from the father receiving a greater allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time because he works from home, they could create and agree upon a parenting plan that reflects this decision.
Not all divorcing couples are able to agree upon child-related matters, however. Further, not all families should attempt negotiation (i.e. situations involving domestic violence). In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are decided by the courts. To make this determination, the judge will look at a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child, including:
- Wishes and needs of the child;
- Wishes of each parent;
- Child’s involvement and adjustment to school, community, and home;
- Each parent’s willingness to encourage a healthy and ongoing relationship with the other parent;
- Previous agreements regarding decision-making of the child;
- Each parent’s prior involvement in the child’s daily upbringing;
- Ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions in the best interest of their child;
- Distance between each parent’s residence and any difficulties in transporting the child;
- Physical violence or threat of violence from either parent;
- Neglect or abuse against the child or against another member of the household;
- Mental, physical, and emotional health of all parties involved;
- If one of the parents is a convicted sex offender (and how that may impact the safety of the child; and
- Any other factors that the court deems relevant.
What This Means for Stay-at-Home Dads
While, on one hand, a judge might consider granting a stay-at-home dad a greater allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, this may not always be the case. If, for example, the stay-at-home dad has a substance abuse problem that essentially required the mother to work to support the family, this could be used as a factor against him. This may not necessarily be the case, of course, since every situation and family is different. However, it is important to note that there are many factors that go into determining which parent receives the greatest allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities.
Contact Our Experienced Family Law Attorneys
Divorce is a complex matter, legally and emotionally speaking. Our skilled Rolling Meadows parental responsibilities lawyers can help you manage the issues you are facing while also ensuring that your rights, and the rights of your child, are protected. Schedule your free consultation with us today to learn more.