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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.

St. Charles family law attorneyOnce your divorce is wrapped up, you and your family will embark on new journeys and a brand new way of life. When you and your ex-spouse share children, arrangements for parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities must be made, resulting in new routines and a lifestyle that you and your children were not previously accustomed to before the divorce. While these new arrangements can take some getting used to, they often result in happier, healthier homes and habits for you and your children.

Depending on your family situation, however, you may wish to take other people into consideration, such as grandparents, mentors, and close family friends.  Who will have visitation rights, and what will those rights look like? How will you determine which non-parents will spend time with your children, and how will you negotiate those parameters?

Non-Parent Involvement

If the visitation rights of non-parents are not addressed in the parenting plan, they can be granted by the court using the following guidelines:

Kane County family lawyerWhile fathers have always played an important role in the upbringing and development of children, they have not always been treated as such by the courts. This was often due to the assignment of traditional gender roles. Further, it was originally thought that the mother was more critical than the father was in the child’s early years. Yet, as time passed, fathers began to gain important recognition in the lives of their children. The composition of families also started to change. Now, there are fathers who stay home with their children while the mothers work outside of the home. Does this necessarily affect the allocation of parental responsibilities or assignment of parenting time in divorce though?

How Child-Related Matters Are Determined

In Illinois, divorcing parents are encouraged to negotiate an agreement regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and the parenting time details of their case. Generally, this offers numerous benefits for families, including the freedom to create a parenting plan that is tailored to meet their family’s specific needs. For example, if the couple feels the child and family would benefit most from the father receiving a greater allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time because he works from home, they could create and agree upon a parenting plan that reflects this decision.

Not all divorcing couples are able to agree upon child-related matters, however. Further, not all families should attempt direct negotiations, such as in situations involving domestic violence. In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are decided by the courts. To make this determination, the judge will look at a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child, including:

Posted on in Divorce

St. Charles IL divorce attorneyIf you have recently made the decision to pursue a divorce, you will probably have many questions. You might wonder how much the process will cost you, how long the proceedings will take, and what you should expect along the way. There is also the issue of hiring an attorney to help you through your divorce. In today’s digitally-connected world, countless online resources offer guidance on handling a divorce without a lawyer, but doing so is not usually a good idea. It is especially dangerous if you and your spouse have children together or have even moderate wealth. Hiring an attorney is the best course of action, but do each of you need a separate lawyer, or can a single lawyer handle the proceedings on behalf of both of you?

Conflicting Interests

At its most basic, marriage is a type of contract between you and your spouse, which makes your divorce a legal proceeding to dissolve the marriage contract. Technically, this means that you and your spouse are opposing parties in the case, regardless of how well you get along and whether or not you have reached an agreement regarding the details of your divorce.

According to the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, the guidelines that govern how attorneys practice law in Illinois, a lawyer may not represent a given client “if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest.” An attorney is presumed to have a conflict of interest if representing the client in question “will be directly adverse to another client.” As far as the law is concerned, this is exactly what would happen in your divorce. While you and your spouse might be committed to cooperation during your divorce, the law and the rules of ethics view your interests as conflicting with your spouse’s by virtue of being opposing parties in the same legal proceeding.

St. Charles IL family law attorneyDivorce is hard, no matter what the circumstances are or how “friendly” the divorce may be. Not only is it the end of a marriage, but the finality often hits home over and over again as discussions and negotiations take place regarding a couple’s assets and debts. Who gets the living room set? Who gets the good china? However, the hardest part about divorce typically involves the couple’s children and how parental responsibilities and parenting time are going to be divided.

When You and the Other Parent Cannot Agree

In the best cases, parents are able to come to an agreement and work out a parenting plan that will serve the best interests of their child while respecting each parent’s rights. In such cases, the court will generally approve the plan presented by the parents. Sometimes, however, the parents cannot agree, and litigation becomes necessary. Unfortunately, litigation has a tendency to turn bitter and contentious, which can be extremely difficult for children to deal with.

No matter what the situation may be, you can help protect your children when you are facing a parenting-related dispute by doing a few key things, including:

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