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High Point Plaza, 4415 West Harrison Street, Suite 213
Hillside, IL 60162

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Do I Have Any Child Custody Rights If I Am Not Married To My Child’s Mother?

Posted on in Paternity / Parentage

Oak Park family law attorney child custody

In today’s world, families come in all shapes and sizes, including parents who are not married. As an unmarried father, you may be wondering what your rights are with regard to your child. Historically, mothers have taken on the role of primary parent and caregiver. Illinois courts, however, often favor having both parents involved in the child’s life, so long as this is what is best for the child. If you are not married to your child’s mother, and do not intend to be, there are a few steps that you should take to be sure that your rights as a father are protected.

Establishing Paternity

Before any custody decisions are made, you have to legally establish yourself as the child’s father. For fathers who are married, this is accomplished by signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” (“VAP”) form. The law assumes that a mother’s husband is the father of her child, and both parties recognize that this is true by signing a “VAP”. For parents who are not married, proving paternity requires a few additional steps. It is often advisable for unmarried fathers to obtain proof of their biological connection to their child. This involves taking a DNA paternity test to provide the court with proof of your connection to your child, and to ensure that your rights as the child’s father are upheld.

Determining Custody

As the child’s father, you have the same rights to child custody as their mother. While it may seem like a good idea to come up with a custody agreement with the child’s mother, you need to obtain a legally binding agreement to ensure that your rights are protected. It may seem intimidating to have to go before a judge to seek custody rights, but the decision will be made based on the best interests of the child. There are over 15 different factors that a judge will consider when determining what is best for a child, including the following:

  • The child’s needs;

  • The wishes of the child, if they are old enough to express these opinions;

  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community;

  • The mental and physical health of all parties involved;

  • The parents’ ability to cooperate or the frequency that conflict arises; and,

  • The level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision-making in regards to the child.

After considering relevant factors, such as those mentioned above, the judge will then allocate parenting time and responsibilities as they deem appropriate. This will include naming the primary custodial parent, formulating a parenting schedule, designating each parent’s rights with regard to the child, and more.

Contact a Hillside, IL Family Law Attorney For Help

Fathers deserve to have legal rights with regard to their children, even if they are not married to the child’s mother. Without having legal custody arrangements in place, the time that you spend with your child can be greatly limited, and you may feel as if you are unable to reach your full potential as a parent. The Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C. believes that every father deserves the chance to know their child and to be a part of the little and big moments in their lives. Attorney Vincent Machroli has over 32 years of experience assisting families throughout the Chicagoland area with their legal matters, including fighting for fathers’ rights with regard to their children. If you are an unmarried father, contact our Oak Park family lawyer at 708-449-7404 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/parents/Pages/Paternity.aspx

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8300000&SeqEnd=10000000

 

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