In the average divorce, custody of the children is usually one of the most pressing concerns for parents. Both parents will likely want to play a significant role in the lives of their children. In some situations, one parent may worry that the other has an advantage that will affect court proceedings.

It is still common for many men to assume that the courts have a custody bias that favors women or mothers. This can lead fathers to unnecessarily aggressive strategies or even destroy their motivation for seeking custody in the first place. Quite a few men fail to get custody because they never seek it, believing they don’t have a chance to begin with.

If you know that divorce is likely in your future, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship with your children will change dramatically. You have as many rights as the mother of the children to protect your relationship with your kids. The chances are good that if you seek shared custody, the courts will probably decide to split it between you and your ex.

Illinois law looks at the children’s needs, not the parents’ gender

The Illinois family code talks about the proper way to split up parental rights, parenting time and parental responsibilities. Nowhere in the code does it specifically allocate certain rights or responsibilities to parents of either gender. In fact, no reference is made to mothers or fathers at all, just parents.

In other words, the courts should take a gender-neutral approach to custody proceedings. Fathers and mothers play equally important roles to their children, and the courts should not assume anything about the nature of your relationship just because of your gender.

Instead, the judge will look at your overall stability, your existing relationship with the children and in some cases even the preferences of the children when deciding how to split up custody between the parents.

A focus on the children means sole custody is an unlikely outcome

Many parents still think of custody proceedings as a winner-take-all contest where they can beat their ex in the divorce. However, the family courts in Illinois have more of a focus on the needs of the children, which typically means shared parental responsibilities between both parents. An antagonist approach could hurt your children or even your chances of shared custody.

The courts will look for a way to divide parenting time and the other obligations and responsibilities of parents between the adults in a manner that is both fair and representative of the family’s current dynamics. Discussing your situation with an Illinois family law and divorce attorney can help you better predict likely potential outcomes for custody.