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The Rights of Unmarried Fathers in Illinois

Posted on in Family Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design.jpgAccording to Illinois law, when parents are unmarried, the mother has custody of the child until legal paternity is established. This means that the mother has the right to make all decisions for the child and is not obligated to allow the father to have any time with the child. If an unmarried father would like custody, he must take legal action and will not have any rights to the child until legal paternity has been determined. 

How is a Legal Father Defined in Illinois?

In Illinois, a man is the legal father of a child if one of the following circumstances is true:

  • The man was married to the child’s mother during conception or birth.
  • The man was married to the child’s mother after the child was born and was listed on the child’s birth certificate as their father.
  • The Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services has established paternity.
  • The man and the mother of the child signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity or VAP.

How is Custody Gained After Legal Paternity Has Been Established?

After legal paternity has been established, the man does not automatically receive custody or visitation rights. If he requests custody or visitation rights, he must prove that it is in the best interest of the child. In order to determine what is in the best interest of the child, the court will evaluate these factors:

  • The wishes of the child and each parent
  • The age of the child
  • The relationship between the child and their siblings
  • The physical, mental, and emotional health of each parent
  • Signs of domestic violence
  • Signs of alcohol and drug abuse
  • The child’s satisfaction level in their community, home life, and school
  • The circumstances of each parent’s living situation
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to provide the child with proper care

Importance of Establishing Legal Paternity 

There are a variety of reasons it is important for a man to establish legal paternity. By doing so, he can receive the opportunity to pursue a relationship with his child. In addition, he can be added to the child’s birth certificate, gain access to vital medical information, and secure Social Security, medical benefits, inheritance, and other benefits for his child. 

Contact Our Will County Family Law Lawyers Today

By proving paternity, a biological father may gain custody and visitation rights and assist a single mother in obtaining child support. If you would like to prove paternity, it is in your best interest to contact our experienced Will County family law lawyers today at 630-932-9100.





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