In Illinois, child custody is now referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities” and visitation is now referred to as “parenting time.” Mothers who give birth to children automatically have full parental rights over that child, including the right to allocation of parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody). When the mother of the child is married to the child’s father, the father too is automatically granted parental rights. However, in the event that the mother and the father are not married, the father is only the “alleged” father. An alleged father has no legal rights, including no rights regarding child custody, or allocation of parental responsibilities. For this reason, it is essential that you establish paternity and hire an Illinois child custody lawyer.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (Custody) and Parenting Time (Visitation) When You Are Not Married to Your Child’s Mother
In the event that you are not married to your child’s mother but are in a relationship with her, custody and visitation should be non-issues. However, in the event that you are not married to the child’s mother and you and the mother separate, the mother may try to deny you custody and visitation rights. Because you have no legal rights established, the mother can do so until legal action is taken.
What Do I Need to Do If I Am Not Married to My Child’s Mother?
If you are not married to your child’s mother, you need to establish paternity. You should do this regardless of whether or not you and the child’s mother are on good terms, currently dating, living together, etc. Unless you establish paternity, you will have no parental rights, you will not be able to make decisions about your child and you will have no rights to parenting time (visitation) in the event of a separation.
There are three ways to establish paternity in Illinois: first, you and your child’s mother can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (this is usually done at the time of birth); second, an Administrative Paternity Order may be entered by the State of Illinois Child Support Services; or third, a judge issues a paternity order after the person seeking paternity takes legal measures. The easiest method is the first; the most complicated is the latter.
Once You Are the Legal Father of a Child
Once you are the legal father of the child, you have the same rights over the child as does the child’s mother. This means that if you and the child’s mother separate, you have the right to seek allocation of parental responsibilities (custody) of your child. While this is not guaranteed based solely on your legal status as your child’s father, you can petition for allocation of parental responsibilities. A judge will make a determination based on multiple factors, all of which must support the child’s best interests. Again, if you have not established paternity, you will have no custody rights.
How a Child Support Attorney Can Help You
Understanding the laws regarding child support, especially if you are not your child’s legal parent, can be very complicated and frustrating. To help you establish paternity and/or to petition for custody or visitation rights, now known as allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, contact the experienced Naperville child custody attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates P.C. You can call us at 630-961-0060 for your free initial case consultation, or contact us using our online form.