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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.

Kane County paternity lawyerAny time parents have a child and are not legally married, they have a number of issues to address when it comes to the child’s rights and future. Establishing legal paternity in the state of Illinois is one of the first and most critical steps. Doing so is important for a number of reasons, particularly because it allows parents to protect their children and their own rights as a parent. Without legal paternity, a father’s rights are especially at risk.

How Legal Paternity Can Benefit You and Your Child

While there are other ways to establish legal paternity in Illinois, the easiest way is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, also called a VAP. This is typically done right at the hospital, as soon as the child is born. If one or both parents are unavailable at the time of birth to sign the form, however, the VAP can be completed and submitted on a later date. In cases where there is apprehension or doubt about signing a VAP, paternity can also be established by means of an Administrative Paternity Order from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services or an Order of Paternity issued by a judge.

Some important ways the father and child will benefit from establishing legal paternity include the following:

Posted on in Child Custody

How Divorce Has Improved for Men in the Past DecadeDivorce in the U.S. has changed in many ways during the last decade. The divorce rate has settled down from the boom the country experienced in the 1970s. Millennials, who were the children of many of those divorces, are waiting longer to get married and start a family. Divorce has also become more amicable because of the rising use of conflict resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce. Women have increasing power during the process and are less likely to be financially dependent upon men. However, men have also seen increased benefits from divorce, thanks to that same trend towards gender equality.

Father’s Rights

The presumption used to be that the mother would have most of the control over the children after a divorce because the mother was the primary caretaker in the family. Fathers would typically have less decision-making power, and equal parenting time was practically unheard of. Now, courts see the importance of both divorced parents having a major role in raising their children. This means that courts:

  • Are more likely to consider a father’s request for equal parenting time
  • May give a majority of the parenting time to a father if it is in the children’s best interest
  • May give more weight to a father’s desire for shared parenting, even if they were less active as a parent during the marriage

It is difficult to obtain equal parenting time in Illinois because courts presume that it is better for the children if one parent has more parenting time. Still, a proactive father is more likely to be rewarded, instead of getting the children every other weekend.

Celebrating Your First Post-Divorce Father's DayJune 18 marks the annual celebration of Father’s Day in the U.S. While it is usually a time for fathers and their children to bond, a newly divorced father may experience the holiday differently. Depending on the parenting time arrangement, his children may be unavailable to visit him that day. If he does get to spend the day with them, he may not know how to celebrate. Past Father’s Day traditions may have relied on the mother’s involvement. Divorced fathers need to take an active role in creating a positive Father’s Day experience for them and their children.

Save the Date

You should talk to your former wife about your desire to spend Father’s Day with your children, especially if it would require altering your parenting time schedule. Parenting time agreements are legally binding, but parents can make minor adjustments without needing court approval. Hopefully, your former wife will appreciate the day’s importance to you and your children. However, you can also help with scheduling by being flexible:

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois child custody attorney, Illinois family law attorneyIf you are a father facing divorce, you might find yourself stressing about what will happen to your relationship with your children. Although you have a full, equal role in your child's life, many individuals throughout the United States hold outdated notions about a mother's role in her child's life versus a father's role. You might also have heard that courts tend to favor mothers when determining custody arrangements and that after a divorce, a father simply becomes an ATM for child and spousal support.

Do not let these ideas trap you into thinking you have no power or rights in your divorce. The concept of child custody has been dramatically altered in recent years and now, it is known as parenting time and parental responsibilities. These refer to the roles that each parent fills in his or her child's life and the specified blocks of time they spend with the child in the years after their divorce. Under Illinois law, a parent's gender has no bearing on these determinations and when child support is deemed to be necessary, it is ordered based on the parenting time arrangement determined by the court. Your attorney will fight for your right to be treated fairly during these determinations and if you feel your gender is being used in any way to justify less parenting time or a larger financial obligation than you deserve, voice your concerns to your lawyer.

Showing That You Are an Involved Parent

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