Child Custody For Unmarried Parents

Custody rights and parental rights are pretty straightforward for parents who were married and are now getting divorced. But that's not always the case for unmarried couples who have children together.

In Illinois, the term parentage refers to the legal relationship between a parent and his or her child (paternity and maternity are gender-specific terms for parentage). For birth mothers, parentage is easy to establish (the very act of giving birth is usually enough). But for unmarried fathers or partners who are not the birth mother and not listed on the child's birth certificate, steps must be taken to legally establish parentage prior to moving on to issues of placement, parenting time and decision-making.

How Can You Establish Parentage?

If you have never been married to the child's birth mother and need to establish parentage as the father of your child, you can fill out and file what's known as a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. It must be signed by you and the birth mother and filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

In some cases, a DNA test demonstrating paternity may be necessary before parentage can be established.

Securing Parental Rights And Responsibilities

Because parentage is a legal relationship between a parent and child, establishing parentage is the first step toward seeking custody rights. Conversely, it may also be the first step in imposing parental responsibilities like child support.

If you are the unmarried parent of a child and want to seek parental rights, because of the complexities of the law and the process of establishing parentage, consulting with an experienced attorney can save you both time and money. Gauthier Family Law is here to help. We will guide you through the process of establishing parentage, and then help you petition the Court for parenting time or other rights.

Contact Us Today For A Free Consultation

With an office in Vernon Hills, Gauthier Family Law serves clients throughout Lake County, McHenry County and surrounding areas. If you have questions about child custody for unmarried parents, you can speak directly with our firm's lawyer for free by calling 847-816-7781. You can also contact us via email.