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What Are My Rights as an Unmarried Father in Illinois?

 Posted on November 06, 2020 in Paternity

Wheaton, IL fathers’ rights attorneyIf you recently found out that your current or former dating partner is pregnant, you may have questions about your legal rights. You may wonder if you have the same rights to your child as the child’s mother or what you need to do to obtain these rights. You may also have questions about how child custody and parenting time will be divided once the child is born. In Illinois, fathers have the same rights as mothers. However, there are certain steps you will need to take in order to establish these important rights.

Paternity Laws in Illinois

When a married couple has a child, the law automatically assumes that the husband of the woman giving birth is the child’s father. He does not need to take additional steps to establish his paternity. However, the same is not true for unmarried fathers. To establish legal parentage of your child, you and the child’s mother will need to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form. This form is typically available at the hospital where the child is born, or it may be obtained through the Illinois Healthcare and Family Services department or your local county clerk. If there is a question as to your biological relationship to the child, you may need to take a DNA test before you can establish paternity.

Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Once you have established paternity of your child, you will have the right to request visitation, technically called parenting time, with your child. If you and your child’s other parent are able to reach an agreement about parental responsibilities and parenting time, you will describe these decisions in your “parenting plan.” The decisions you make in your parenting plan become an official court order that both parents must abide by. If you cannot reach an agreement, the court will determine a parenting plan on your behalf. 

Illinois law does not favor one parent over the other when it comes to allocations of parental responsibilities or parenting time. All child-related decisions are based on what is in the child’s best interests. When deciding how to allocate parenting time and parental responsibilities, Illinois courts consider:

  • Each parent’s wishes

  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to take care of the child

  • The relationship between the child and each parent

  • The parents’ living situations

  • Each parent’s mental well-being and physical health

  • Any instances of domestic violence

Contact a Wheaton Paternity Lawyer

If you have further questions about your rights as a father, or if you need help addressing paternity or child custody concerns, contact The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. Call our office today at 630-462-9500 and schedule a confidential consultation with a DuPage County family law attorney.



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