Experienced In Parentage Cases For Both Mothers And Fathers
There are numerous legal issues for unmarried parents who bring a child into the world. Whether you are the mother or the father, it is important to seek competent legal advice with respect to your parental rights.
Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C., is a family law firm serving clients in Peoria and Tazewell counties and throughout Central Illinois. We have significant experience handling parentage cases (formerly known as paternity actions) for mothers and fathers who have children while unmarried. We help our clients secure parental rights and obtain the financial support needed to raise their children.
Contact our family law firm online to speak with a Peoria paternity attorney about establishing parentage.
Issues Confronting An Unmarried Mother
One of the biggest concerns for an unmarried mother is securing financial support for her child. Having the father’s name on the birth certificate is not enough; the father isn’t legally required to pay child support until there is an order entered with the court establishing parentage. We can help you through this process so you can get the financial support your child needs.
Additionally, many unmarried mothers assume they have sole parental responsibilities for their child. Even if the father signs a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (VAP), the mother’s rights are only presumed and can be challenged by the father in the future. It is important to seek allocation of parental responsibilities as soon as possible in order to establish your rights as a parent.
Issues Confronting An Unmarried Father
It is common for an unmarried father to sign the child’s birth certificate at the hospital when the child is born. Many who do so mistakenly believe nothing further is necessary in order to ensure their rights as the child’s father; however, voluntarily signing a birth certificate or VAP does not give an unmarried father any parental rights or time with the child.
In order to establish parental rights, an unmarried father must establish in court that a parent/child relationship exists. Once the court enters an order declaring the unmarried father to be the legal parent of the child, an order can be entered which typically sets forth the parenting time and holiday schedule, and makes other financial arrangements for the benefit of the child.
The fact that the father has signed the birth certificate does not mean that child support will automatically start for the mother. Legal proceedings are necessary to ensure that the needs of the child and both parents are fully addressed.
Establishing Legal Parentage
Parentage can be established in family court fairly quickly if the two parents do not dispute the identity of the father. If there is a dispute, then paternity will be established by means of a court-ordered DNA test.
Once parentage is legally established, the parents can request relief for themselves and their child, such as:
- Financial arrangements for the payment of child support, day care expenses and medical expenses
- Allocation of parental rights (child custody) and parenting time (visitation)
When you retain Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C, you will meet personally with a lawyer who will handle your parentage case from beginning to end. Whether paternity is contested or not, your attorney will serve as an advocate for your interests and those of your children.
There are numerous issues and potential problems involved in parentage cases. It is essential for unmarried parents to receive sound legal advice as they seek to do what is best for their child.