One of the most commonly held pieces of divorce wisdom is that the courts favor the mother in custody battles. In reality, both here in Illinois and elsewhere throughout the nation, child custody has become a more complicated matter. More and more, courts and parents alike are favoring joint custody over sole custody. In tandem with the rise of joint custody, the prevalence of maternal custody is dropping.

Recent studies suggest that, between the years of 1988 and 2008, the frequency with which divorcing mothers were awarded sole custody of their child or children dropped from 80 percent to 42 percent. However, this did not signify a shift to paternal custody. Rather, joint custody to both parents was awarded increasingly. Paternal custody remained relatively constant at around 10 percent during that time.

It is important to note a potential flaw in this study, however. The case studies included here only referred to couples who had children while married, then divorced later. Considering almost half the children in America are born to single mothers, this could skew the statistics somewhat, as the custody arrangements awarded in those cases are not included here. However, it is still interesting to note that joint custody in the case of married individuals who choose to divorce is still on the rise.

Child custody is one of the most emotionally charged elements of any divorce, as Illinois parents who have experienced the process would no doubt agree. Of course, every parent wants what is best for their child, which is why it is so important for both parties to have a comprehensive understanding of the legalities of child custody in their state. This can help both parties come to an agreement that’s best for them and their child alike.

Source: Time Magazine, “Custody: Joint Custody On the Rise, Maternal Custody Plummets“, Charlotte Alter, May 22, 2014