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Can Fathers Seek Full Child Custody in Illinois?

Posted on in Child Custody

St. Charles IL family law attorneyAs a father, you play a critically important role in your child’s life. At the same time, fathers face some unique challenges in custody and visitation cases. You may be wondering: Can a father seek sole custody in Illinois? The answer is a clear “yes”—a father has just as much right to seek custody as a mother. Nonetheless, the United States Census Bureau reports that it is significantly more common for mothers to have primary custody than fathers. Here is an overview of the most important things dads should know about their parental rights in Illinois.

A Father Must Establish Parentage to Have Rights

As a starting point, a father must establish legal parentage. Without paternity, a man has no access to parental rights. Paternity is simply defined as the legal relationship between a father and a child. How exactly paternity is best established depends on the specific circumstances of the case.

For married men, paternity is straightforward. You are automatically assumed to be the father of your wife’s child. No action is required under Illinois law to establish legal paternity. Married fathers have paternity rights as soon as their child is born. On the other hand, unmarried men can face some additional challenges. If there is no dispute over parentage, a Voluntary Acknowledgment form submitted jointly with the child’s mother is sufficient. However, in other cases, a father may need to seek a paternity order.

Legal Fathers Have Equal Right to Seek Custody

In Illinois, family law is applied in a generally neutral manner. A legal father has every parental right that the mother possesses. The mother does not automatically get primary rights. Notably, Illinois does not technically use the terms “custody” or “visitation” in official proceedings anymore. Although you still often hear those terms used in informal settings, the concepts are now known as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. A father has the right to seek equal parenting time and equal parental responsibilities. Indeed, when warranted, an Illinois father can seek sole responsibility for their children.

Illinois Favors Shared Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time

Illinois family courts can award sole parental responsibility to either the mother or the father. That being said, state law presumes that some form of shared parental responsibility and parenting time is typically in the best interests of the child. Generally speaking, sole custody will not be granted to either parent unless there is good cause to show that doing so is best for the child’s health, safety, and overall well-being. 

Contact Our Kane County Child Custody Attorneys

At Goostree Law Group, our St. Charles child custody lawyers are compassionate, solutions-driven advocates for parents. If you are a father with questions about your parental rights, we are more than happy to assist. For a free, confidential initial consultation, please contact us today at 630-584-4800.

 

Sources:

https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/P60-255.pdf

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

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