It goes without saying that mothers are vital to helping our society nurture, teach, and prepare children for the future, and the love and compassion mothers provide children is invaluable for their emotional development. Because the bond between mother and child is so strong, almost every mother in an allocation or custody dispute wants to fight as hard as possible to retain physical possession of her children and ensure their best interests are fulfilled.
During Illinois child custody or allocation disputes, many will ask “what are my rights as a mother in Illinois?” The answer to that question varies depending on the marital status of the mother. Unmarried women with children are afforded different rights under Illinois law compared to married or divorced women with children.
Even with these distinct classifications, each situation is unique and can have differing outcomes. Speaking to an experienced and dedicated Naperville family lawyer about their case can help mothers better understand the legal aspects of their situation and assist their attorneys in preparing a strong case.
Rights of unmarried mothers in Illinois
Illinois child custody or allocation laws provide that when children are born to unwed parents, the mother retains the primary right to custody or decision making of the child until the father seeks to assert his rights in court.
In order for unmarried fathers to gain custody, allocation, visitation, or parenting time rights of their children, they must take a series of steps to establish this. First, the father may sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form declaring him to be the child’s biological father. This document in and of itself does not grant the father any rights; indeed, he must petition the court in separate legal action.
Rights of mothers going through divorce in Illinois
The rights of mothers going through a divorce in Illinois vary greatly from those of unwed mothers. In recent years, perception that courts automatically grant the majority of parenting time to mothers is starting to change as states like Illinois reform their divorce and child custody laws.
Now, Illinois divorce and family courts no longer award custody or visitation. Instead the terms “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time” supplant these ideas. Allocation of parental responsibilities refers to each parent’s ability to make decisions for various aspects of the child’s life, including:
- Where the child goes to school;
- What doctors the child sees;
- The religious upbringing of the child; and
- Sports and other activities the child takes part in.
Factors the court will use to determine the allocation of parenting time include:
- The child’s wishes;
- Relationship between child and parent;
- Distance between the two parents’ homes; and
- Previous time spent between child and parent.
In this respect, both mothers and fathers have the possibility of retaining parenting time with the child, as courts will examine what is truly best for the child and not automatically award the majority of parenting time to the mother. For this reason and others, it is important that mothers going through divorce or child custody proceedings retain an experienced Naperville child custody lawyer to help them in their time of need.
Naperville child custody lawyers
If you are a parent going through a divorce, contact our office for a consultation about your case. The experienced Naperville child custody attorneys of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. have almost 100 years of combined legal knowledge and are fully prepared to help you retain the vital parenting time you and your child need.
We serve clients throughout Naperville, Wheaton, Downers Grove, Lombard, Lisle, and Aurora. Let us assist you today.