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Father reflects on family 10 years after separation, divorce

SOUTH ELGIN – Bill Ginther of South Elgin has spent the past 10 years helping to raise his three children while sharing custody with his ex-wife.

The two parents are very involved in the lives of their children, Clay, 21; Brad, 18; and Abi, 16. Because they both share the same beliefs when it comes to raising children, Ginther said he likes to think that his relationship with his children is no different than when he and his ex-wife still were married.

“I had some great advice from a friend who said you have to base your decisions on what’s best for the kids and the rest falls in line,” he said.

As a divorced dad, Ginther shares his perspective with about 15,000 fathers in Kane County, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Ginther spends seven out of every 14 days with his children doing things dads typically do. While his oldest son, Clay, was growing up, Ginther said he chaperoned school trips, watched Clay perform in school choirs and is now watching his son adjust to the working world.

His middle child, Brad, was a longtime Boy Scout who recently earned Eagle Scout rank. Ginther has accompanied his son on camping and hiking trips, as well as a 60-mile canoe trip through Canada.

Ginther spends time with his youngest, Abi, watching her play softball with a traveling team, which brings the team to places such as Iowa, Missouri and Colorado.

He said it was difficult at first to split his time with his kids, but after a decade, it has become the norm.

“It gives you time to focus on the kids when they’re with you, and when they’re not with you, you can get caught up on other stuff,” he said.

Ginther said knowing that he has his kids part-time makes him more conscious about spending quality time with them.

Although he doesn’t consider himself a single father, he still has to run a household alone.

“What overwhelmed me in the beginning, and still does today, is not so much centered on parenting,” he said. “If I don’t clean up the house, I know nobody else will. If I don’t get groceries, I know nobody else will.”

He said one thing that has gotten easier now that his children are driving is that he doesn’t have to be in three places at once anymore.

Although he said he was fortunate not to deal with custody issues, Ginther said it seems the court system has come a long way in the last 10 years when it comes to fathers’ parenting rights.

“I would like to hope that courts have seen fathers as an equal parent,” he said.

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