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What Are The Rights Of Unwed Fathers?

 Posted on May 01, 2016 in Divorce

Many fathers believe child custody laws are stacked squarely against their right to be a part of their child’s life and that mothers almost always prevail in custody disputes. While there may still be some work to be done, Illinois recently passed legislation to help ensure that, when possible, both parents share responsibilities for raising children.

However, fathers should understand their custody rights are not guaranteed from the birth of the child and may have an uphill battle in some situations to secure their paternal rights.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

Typically, when a child is born to unwed parents, paternity is first established by filling out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form which, among other things, allows the child to be given the father’s last name. However, the most important thing unwed fathers need to understand is that this document does not establish any custody or visitation rights, and that it ensures the father is liable for child support payments.

Simply put, from the moment the child is born and the paternity forms are signed, fathers have no other rights to their children other than to pay child support. Even if the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form is not signed, paternity in Illinois may be established if:

  • The child’s parents were married at the time of conception; or
  • Courts conduct genetic testing; or
  • Both parents agree.

Once paternity is established, unwed fathers must take steps to ensure that they are allowed to see their child.

How do I get custody rights to my child after paternity is established?

After legally establishing paternity, unwed fathers will need to file petitions with the court granting them parenting time and parenting rights. Without going through this process, unwed fathers may be shut out of their child’s life while still obligated to pay child support. Furthermore, unwed fathers should act quickly since it can take weeks or sometimes even months to obtain court orders granting visitation or custody.

Another important issue that unwed fathers need to understand is that some unwed mothers may choose to allow their child to be adopted, rather than keep the child, sometimes without the biological father ever even knowing until it is too late. After the child is born, fathers should immediately register with the Illinois Putative Fathers Registry to be notified in case this happens.

Lisle fathers’ rights attorneys

If you are an unwed father with concerns about your custody rights, experienced and dedicated Lisle fathers’ rights attorneys can help you make sense of these issues in your time of need. Our attorneys regularly represent the legal interests of fathers seeking visitation rights and custody rights and are well versed in the legal nuances required to help secure these paternal rights.

Contact us for a consultation about your case. Our family law attorneys serve clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Downers Grove, Lombard, Lisle, and Aurora.

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