Butler Giraudo & Meister
Peoria 309-407-3332
Morton 309-263-1204

Unwed fathers have fathers' rights, too

Most fathers love their children as much as their mothers do. In those cases when fathers aren't with the children's mothers, nor have they ever been married to them, they should know that they do have a number of fathers' rights in Illinois. Unwed fathers need to acquaint themselves with the laws that affect them and their children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that 40% of all births in the United States are to women who aren't married. When this happens, there is no legal presumption as to the paternity of the child. This has to be established if an unwed father is to have any legal rights to his child. The easiest way of doing that is to make sure the father's name is on the birth certificate, but if that's not possible, the father can fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

If the mother challenges a claim to paternity of her child, the first thing to do is to have a paternity test done even if a family court judge needs to order the mother's cooperation. New Jersey will allow a putative father to claim paternity by filing an affidavit or acknowledgment of paternity with a court or appropriate state authority. Custody status needs to be determined after paternity has been formally established, along with decisions regarding child support. 

Illinois residents who have questions regarding fathers' rights in the state would do well to speak to an experienced attorney. A lawyer may be able to help a client with the steps involved in establishing paternity. The law should be applied equally when deciding parental legal issues and in these cases a lawyer's advice and guidance could be invaluable.

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