Do Unmarried Fathers Have Parental Rights in Illinois?

Do Unmarried Fathers Have Parental Rights in Illinois?

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

Children generally do better when they have both parents playing an active and engaged role in their lives. In the case of divorce, parenting time arrangements are included in legal proceedings. Unfortunately, when the parents are unmarried, asserting the father’s rights in Illinois can prove far more challenging. Our child custody lawyers in Chicago acts as strong legal advocates on your behalf in this situation and explain what you need to know about the process.

Proving Paternity In Illinois

In cases where a married couple has children, the father’s name is automatically added to the child’s birth certificate. This protects the father’s rights in the event of a divorce. Based on all of the various factors involved, they may then be entitled to physical custody, visitation, and legal custody, which is the right to make important decisions on the child’s behalf.

For unmarried parents, proving paternity is generally the first step in protecting the father’s rights. The Illinois Department of Public Health advises that there are two general options available:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity: As the name implies, this is where both you and the mother of the child voluntarily acknowledge that you are the father of the child. This can be done immediately at the hospital or at a later date. If done later, you and the mother will both need to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement form and file it through the local family court and other state agencies. Keep in mind that you should not sign this form if you have doubt that you are the father.
  • Court Order of Paternity: If either party is unwilling or unable to sign the voluntary acknowledgment, a court order will be needed. This requires paternity testing, generally conducted through a cheek swab that detects DNA and compares it between the child, the mother, and the father involved.

Defending Father’s Rights In Chicago

Once paternity is established either through a voluntary acknowledgment or a court order, the father’s rights are protected under the Illinois Statutes. This means that the father has the right to Petition to Court to be included in child time-sharing arrangements and to participate in creating a parenting plan, which details the following:

  • The amount of time the child spends in each parent’s home
  • Plans for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions
  • Extended visits during school breaks or to allow for vacations
  • Pick up and drop off arrangements
  • Legal rights in making decisions on the child’s behalf
  • Provisions for resolving any disputes that arise between the parents

It is important to note that in addition to protecting fathers’ rights in Illinois, establishing paternity also means assuming certain responsibilities. This includes the obligation to make child support payments if warranted. The court will consider numerous factors in determining who owes child support, an amount fair to both parties, including their current income, earning potential, and any other children they have.

Contact Our Child Custody Lawyer In Chicago Today

At Gordon & Perlut, LLC., we provide the trusted legal guidance clients need when dealing with issues pertaining to paternity and fathers’ rights in Illinois. To discuss your case, call Gordon & Perlut, LLC. to meet with a child custody attorney in Chicago during a free consultation.