The Law Firm of Debra J. Braselton, P.C.
Illinois Matrimonial and Family Law 630-DIVORCE

Illinois child custody for unmarried parents

An unwed father in Illinois is not automatically presumed to be the biological father of a child, which can lead to more complicated determinations of child custody and parental rights. There are a few ways paternity can be recognized, and it must be accomplished before a court may recognize custody or visitation rights.

An Order of Paternity can be established by a Court and entered to record, both parents may complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or VAP form, or the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Service's Child Support Services may enter an Administrative Paternity Order. The entry of any VAP or Administrative Paternity Order will not guarantee a father will be granted custodial or visitation rights. That decision will remain up to the Court. However, entry of either of these documents will confirm legal obligations such as child support.

Regardless of established parentage, a court will still always consider first the best interests of a child. If an establishment of biological parentage does not exist, all parental responsibilities are presumed and allotted to the mother, unless the child has lived with the other parent for a minimum of six months prior to a custodial or child support filing.

Just as establishing biological parentage is required for determination of custody, visitation and legal parental obligations, it can be just as important in determining that someone is not the father. In situations where the relationship of an unmarried couple ends, it is not uncommon for one party to claim the ex-partner as a biological parent, only to have that claim later be proven false. It is always in an Illinois father's best interest to prove or disprove paternity as quickly as possible following the birth of a child. This process can be complex, making it important to become well informed on one's rights and options.

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