We get this question a lot. The idea that fathers have rights that are different from those of mothers is a misunderstanding that has been created by the way some family law attorneys advertise. These lawyers try to get clients by suggesting they specialize in “father’s rights,” which makes fathers think they need to hire that type of attorney. It’s just a marketing gimmick.
There is no Illinois law that says a father gets more or less time with his children than their mother. (Note that we are talking about cases where paternity is not at issue.) What you really need if you are facing a custody battle is a great custody attorney. This is far more important than whether the attorney claims to specialize in the rights of one group over the other.
Mothers may have an advantage in some custody cases, but it’s because of the circumstances within their family rather than anything written into the law. We’ve seen plenty of cases where it’s the other way around. What makes the biggest difference in many cases is whether a parent is represented by an experienced custody attorney.
In the eyes of the law, each parent has equal rights. It is up to the court to determine which parent gets custody or if custody is shared. The court’s main goal is to do what’s in the best interest of the child or children. That’s the law. Your attorney should focus on proving that you are the best parent to take care of your kids.
So the answer to the question “What are a father’s rights in an Illinois child custody case?” is that they are the same as any parent’s rights. You have a right to make decisions that affect how your child is raised, and you have a right to spend time with your child.
It doesn’t have to be left up to the judge. If both mother and father agree on a custody and visitation arrangement, and the judge approves it, the outcome can be up to the parents. While we believe mutual agreement is a good way to go, we don’t recommend doing so without the advice of a lawyer who is yours and yours alone. Do not take advice from the other parent or their attorney.