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Father’s Rights in Illinois

A father’s rights are the same as the mother’s once paternity has been established. To get the right to see your child and be a part of major decisions in their life, you must file for a child custody order because, in practice, fathers have no legal right to see the child without a court order.

Read further to see what rights you have surrounding your child based on your situation.

Ultimately, if it is in the child’s best interest to see you, then you will get custody and have a right to see your child. But there may be some things you need to do before being able to exercise that right.

Father’s Rights Before Establishing Paternity

If you have not established paternity between you and the child, then you have no rights to that child.

Paternity can be established in a couple of ways:

  • Being married to the mother of the child at the time of birth,
  • Signing the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP), or
  • Proving paternity through court order or administrative order usually after genetic testing.

If you need to establish paternity, you will need to file for a paternity action with the court. Having an attorney on your side during a paternity action protects you and your potential child. Once paternity is established, there still needs to be a custody order put in place.

Father’s Rights with Established Paternity

Paternity is the first step to having rights as a father because paternity gives you the right to ask for custody and placement of the child.

Custody, or parental responsibility, is the right to make major decisions in a child’s life. Major decisions include things like where they go to school and what religion they practice. Illinois courts decide custody and placement based on Illinois’s child custody laws.

Placement, or parenting time, is the right to have time physically with your child. In this time, you make day-to-day decisions for them and help them move through the world. There are many different placement schedules for every kind of situation.

Father’s Rights with a Custody Order

Within a custody order, the court outlines who makes major decisions for the child and how much time each parent gets with the child. If a parent breaks the custody agreement they are violating the rights of the other parent.

One example of a violation is if parents share custody and a parent makes a major decision without consulting the other parent. Or another example is if a parent breaks from the established placement schedule without consulting the other parent.

If a parent breaks the custody agreement, the other parent can file to enforce the custody agreement. The court enforces these orders through things like fining the other party or modifying the agreement.

Effect of a Father in a Child's Life

A father will get time with their child if it is in the best interest of the child. In most cases, it is important for the child to have a positive relationship with both of their parents.

These cases are complicated and parents often finish cases wondering if they really got the best order they could have. To ensure that you get the best order possible for your case, call Sterling Lawyers, LLC to speak with one of our attorneys. Nothing is certain, that’s why it’s important to have an experienced professional in your corner.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (312) 757-8082 now!


How Is Child Custody and Placement Decided?

The court decides child custody and placement based on the factors listed in the Illinois state statutes. These factors include things like the needs of the child, the previous parent/child relationship, and the ability of each parent to cooperate with the other.

Who Gets Custody if There Is No Court Order in Illinois?

If paternity has not been established, then the mother has sole custody of the child. After the paternity case closes, a child custody case opens. In the child custody case, the court decides who gets custody and placement of the child.

At What Age in Illinois Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With?

There is no designated age when a child chooses which parent they want to live with. In the factors the court uses to decide placement, one of the factors is what the child requests. The older the child is, the more weight the court gives that preference.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are father rights in Illinois?

Father’s rights are the various rights a father has surrounding their child. These rights relate to issues of custody, placement, and child support.
Fathers have the same rights as mothers to things like custody, placement, and child support. They get these rights only after paternity has been established. Then, the case goes through the court where the judge decides who gets custody and placement of the child.

How does a father get visitation rights in Illinois?

A father gets rights to see the child when it is in the child’s best interests. They can file for custody and placement of the child to start their case in court.
Placement is the time that a child spends with each parent. Visitation is a form of placement where the other party or another person supervises the interaction.

What rights does a father have if he is on the birth certificate in Illinois?

Being on the birth certificate does not give a father rights to the child. Rather, signing the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity gives the father rights. The VAP gives the father rights because it establishes paternity.

What are my rights as a father to see my child?

Your rights to see your child are outlined in your custody and placement order. If you do not have one of these yet, then you and the other party have equal rights to see your child. If this isn’t what’s happening, file to get a child custody order.

Can a mother deny a father access?

A mother cannot deny a father access to their child if there is a custody order in place. If there is no order in place, then the mother isn’t really breaking the law by withholding the child.

Are fathers entitled to 50/50 custody?

Fathers are not entitled to 50/50 custody. Instead, fathers are entitled to request a custody order. What that order looks like will depend on what the court believes is in the best interest of the child. If it is in the best interest of the child for the parents to have 50/50 custody, then that is how it will be.

Can a mother refuse a paternity test in Illinois?

A mother cannot refuse a court-ordered paternity test in Illinois. If a person thinks they are the father of a child, they can file with the court to get a paternity test. If the test shows they are the father, a child custody case is the next step.

What is considered an unfit parent in Illinois?

An unfit parent in Illinois is one that cannot take care of a child or be entrusted with their care. This could be for a variety of reasons such as proof of neglect, abuse, or even addiction.

What are father’s rights if not married?

If the parents of a child are unmarried, then a father only has rights to a child if paternity has been established. If paternity has been established, then the mother and father have equal rights to the child. If one is keeping the child from the other, then they need to get a child custody order from the courts.

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