Many people have a misconception that during a divorce, the mother always takes the children. In Illinois, that just simply is not the case anymore. While, in the old days, this story may have rung true more often than not, times have changed and are continuing to change. Our firm is dedicated to helping any father who wants to be in the lives of his children make that simple request a reality. A father has just as many rights in a divorce proceeding as a mother.
Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time
Whether or not a father was married to the mother is not the question. Once legal paternity has been established, a man is still the father to the children, and therefore has rights to them that are not easily restricted. In the eyes of the law, a father has just as much right to them as the mother does. Fathers have a right to seek parenting time and parental responsibilities. The court will find in favor of the best interest of the child, and unless the child would be in harm’s way to do so, the court assumes interaction with both parents is what is best. There are several factors that the court reviews when determining the best interest of the children. These include:
- The wishes of the child’s parent or parents;
- The wishes of the child in question;
- The interaction between the child and their parents and any other family member that may influence the best interest;
- The adjustment of the child to their environment, such as school, home, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved;
- Any potential violence or abuse; and
- The willingness and the ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent to the child.
In order to be granted rights, however, paternity must be established. This can be done as easily as having a birth certificate with the father’s name on it. Both parents names are typically on the birth certificate if they are married at the time of birth. The court assumes that both spouses are the biological parents and, therefore, the legal parents. If that is not the case, then paternity may be established by signing and filing a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form. If, for some reason, this is under dispute, a DNA test can be used to determine paternity in order for the true father to gain benefits.
After paternity is determined, support and parental rights must all be set up in an agreement. If the two sides are able agree outside of court, they are able to make their own arrangements. However, it must be understood that without the court’s approval, nothing is 100% enforceable. Therefore, the best course of action in order to get an agreement drawn up outside of court is to have the court sign off on it; that way if a payment or a visit is missed, there are repercussions. Furthermore, if an agreement can not be reached, then the court can determine this for you.
If you are an Illinois father seeking rights regarding your biological children, you absolutely have the right to have that happen. The courtroom is now a more even playing field when it comes to parental rights of mothers and fathers. To learn more about your options, contact an experienced Will County family law attorney today. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule your free initial consultation today.