What Child Custody Rights Do Unmarried Parents Have in Chicago?

Child custody is a major issue for unmarried parents in Chicago and elsewhere. Protecting your child’s best interests is a primary concern, but it is also important to understand both your rights and responsibilities in this situation. At Gordon & Perlut, LLC, we can advise you on how to go about putting a parenting plan and other arrangements in place. Our experienced Chicago child custody lawyers explain what you need to know in this situation.

Unmarried Parents and Child Custody in Chicago

Child custody is an issue that is dealt with automatically in divorce proceedings. For unmarried parents, the first step in protecting your rights regarding your child and making child custody arrangements often involves proving paternity.

Under Illinois Department of Healthcare and Human Service (HFS) guidelines, there are generally three ways in which paternity is established:

  • If the couple is married, paternity is automatically presumed
  • Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP), which involves having both parents sign a legal document affirming paternity
  • Paternity testing, which involves attending court hearings and undergoing DNA testing

Once paternity is established, unmarried parents can then address important issues regarding child custody and child support obligations.

Child Custody Arrangements for Unmarried Parents

Under the Illinois Statutes, time-sharing arrangements are generally encouraged in child custody cases. These allow both parents to play an active and involved role in the child’s life. While the process is somewhat different for unmarried parents (child custody is not automatically addressed and involves filing a separate petition), the guidelines for determining these arrangements are much the same.

In Chicago area child custody cases, parenting plans dictate the amount of time each parent gets to spend with their child. These include arrangements for weekday and weekend visits and extended stays over holidays and school breaks. Legal custody is also addressed, which determines each parent’s rights in making important decisions on behalf of the child. Factors a judge will generally consider before approving a parenting plan include:

  • Each parent’s current relationship with the child
  • Their prior involvement in the child’s life
  • Their proven ability to provide the nurturing and care the child needs
  • Their willingness to cooperate with the other parent in implementing child custody arrangements
  • Any issues, such as domestic violence or drug and alcohol abuse, which could put the child or unmarried parents at risk

Contact Our Chicago area Child Custody Lawyers to Discuss Your Case

At Gordon & Perlut, LLC., we have decades of experience protecting the rights of unmarried parents in Chicago area child custody cases. You can count on our Chicago area child custody lawyers to provide the trusted legal guidance you need throughout the process.

We assist you in initiating legal proceedings, helping you establish paternity, and putting a child custody order in place. Our primary concern is protecting your rights and your child’s best interest, which includes addressing potential problems that arise and making sure any final orders are enforced. To discuss the options in your child custody case, call 312-360-0250 or contact our office to schedule a confidential consultation today.