b2ap3_thumbnail_fathers-child-custody-parental-responsibilities-illinois.jpgIn our last post, we discussed some common issues unmarried fathers confront when they are trying to obtain custody of their child in Illinois. Whether they were previously married to their child’s other parent or not, all fathers seeking custody will have to show that they can act in the best interests of their child.

Research on the benefits of fathers being involved in the lives of their children is overwhelming, and Illinois courts are more willing than ever to allow both parents to have a presence in the life of a child, as long as it will be in the child’s best interests. Here, we look at some things you can do to increase your chances of winning custodial responsibilities for your child.

Build a Relationship with the Child

Building relationships with children takes time and effort. After divorce or separation, children may be angry or withdrawn. Stick with your child and make a sincere, ongoing effort to connect with them in a loving and supportive way. If you have a clear record of communicating with your child, you will not only be more likely to get custody, you will be more likely to have a positive relationship with your child.

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Wheaton IL child custody attorneyIn Illinois and America in general, the legal system has a tarnished history of awarding child custodial rights to mothers more than to fathers. In the past, a legal principle known as the “tender years doctrine” assumed that, especially during a child’s youngest years, the mother should automatically have custody. As a result, it has often proved difficult for fathers to get full custody of their children, even when the mother’s caregiving capabilities are compromised.

Fortunately, courts and society at large have gotten much better at recognizing how important of a role fathers play in the nurturing and well-being of their children. The “tender years” doctrine has been replaced by the “best interests of the child” doctrine when deciding which parent should have custody. Social research supports the idea that a child’s interests are best served when both parents are involved in his or her life.

Unmarried Fathers Must Establish Parentage

Fathers still face unique challenges in obtaining full or partial parental responsibility for a child, and this is especially true when a father is not married to a child’s mother. Of course, establishing who is the biological mother of a child is easy to do. And when fathers are married, they are legally assumed to be the father of a child.

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