People now wait longer to get married than they did years ago. People are often older when they decide to get married, if they make that choice at all. Many modern parents are less likely to feel pressured to commit via marriage to their partner just because they have children together.
These changes are beneficial in some regards, but they create challenges for modern families in Illinois facing changes in the relationship between parents. If you are a father who has not married the mother of your children, you likely feel like you have very few rights beyond what she voluntarily gives you.
What you may not realize is that the law absolutely entitles you to a reasonable allocation of parental rights and responsibilities regardless of your marital status. You can protect your relationship with your children by learning about and asserting those rights.
You must establish paternity first
If you had married the mother of your child, there would be a presumption of paternity at the hospital. As an unmarried father, you have to typically fill out paperwork to have your name added to the birth certificate. If the mother cooperates with you, you can do this at the hospital or at any point before your child turns 18.
If she does not, you may need to go to court and ask them to help you secure genetic testing. If the genetic test affirms your relationship with the child, then you can have your name added to the birth certificate and proceed with requesting parenting time.
Your rights aren’t worth anything if you fail to assert them
You can not get a fair share of parenting time in family court if the state doesn’t recognize you as the father of your child. You technically have the right to have a say in your child’s education and healthcare in addition to the right to spend time with them. Unfortunately, if you fail to make use of those rights, your relationship with your child could be collateral damage when the relationship with their mother and.
Establishing paternity and asking for parental rights and responsibilities can be important steps for unmarried fathers in Illinois who want to do right by their children.