In Illinois and in many other states, it can seem like the odds are stacked against fathers in family law cases. Judges in Illinois have been instructed to not hold one parent in higher regard than another – therefore, in theory, this means that a father has the same parental rights as a mother. In practice, however, things often turn out differently.
While mothers often take the lead in caring for children, fathers also play a critical role in their development. Studies now show that children who have fathers or father figures involved in their lives tend to do better in school and chart a better path to success in life. Fathers also often act as caregivers, nurturers, and disciplinarians, providing invaluable love and support throughout the childhood years and beyond.
Evolution of Parental Rights
As a result of these studies, Illinois family law has evolved over time to give men more opportunities to enforce fathers’ rights while scaling back the traditional presumption that a mother would be the better caregiver. This fact notwithstanding, an Illinois father must still do more to fight for his parental rights. For example, when a father signs a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) – a form recognizing him as the child’s legal father – that form specifically states by signing the form, the father is given no rights to parental responsibility or parenting time. This means the father must pursue separate legal action to address these issues.
Father’s Rights to Parenting Time and Parental Responsibility
When a father seeks decision-making responsibility (formerly known as child custody) and parenting time (formerly known as visitation), the judge who hears the case will consider what is in the best interests of the child when making their decisions. There are many factors the judge looks at in reaching the best decision about the case, including the wishes of the parents and the child and the parents’ history of caring for the child and making decisions about how to raise the child.
Father’s Right to Child Support
Typically, the parent who has the majority of the parenting time with a child will receive child support payments from the other parent. If the father is the custodial parent, then it is not uncommon for the father to ask for the judge to order the mother to pay child support. This financial support is used to cover the costs involved in raising the child, including providing clothing, food, and shelter, while also helping to address medical expenses and education-related costs.
Contact a DuPage County Fathers’ Rights Lawyer
While Illinois law makes it clear that mothers and fathers have the same parental rights and obligations, the law is not always applied in this manner. There are many nuances to the law that can disadvantage a father, so it is crucial to be represented by an experienced attorney when addressing issues related to fathers’ rights. A knowledgeable Wheaton, IL family law attorney can explain your rights as a father and help you understand the legal process, working to ensure that your relationship with your child is protected throughout your case and beyond. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-871-1002 today.