If you have a child while you are unmarried, establishing legal paternity provides important benefits to the child, and it can also help both mothers and fathers protect their parental rights. However, it is important to understand exactly what legal paternity entails to determine whether further legal action may be necessary, especially in cases in which you wish to confirm or deny the right to custody and parenting time.
What Benefits Does Legal Paternity Provide in Illinois?
For a child, establishing legal paternity ensures access to financial support from both parents in order to provide for regular needs, including shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, and education. The child can also benefit from the father’s health insurance, life insurance, government benefits including Social Security, an inheritance in the event of his death, as well as information from the father’s medical history that may make better medical care possible for the child.
For the parents, establishing legal paternity usually means that the father will be obligated to make regular child support payments to the mother. The father will also likely have the right to consent to or contest possible future decisions regarding the child’s adoption. The father also has the right to petition for allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, but this is not automatically guaranteed.
Illinois Child Custody Petitions After Establishing Paternity
An unmarried father who wants to ensure involvement in the child’s life through parenting time and parental responsibilities will need to take additional legal action in the form of a petition with the court, as it is necessary to reach an agreement that is fair to the mother and consistent with the child’s best interests. The mother’s consent makes this process easier, but if she contests the father’s involvement, he will need to present a case to demonstrate the benefits to the child.
Mothers who initiate a proceeding to establish legal paternity for the purposes of obtaining child support should be aware that a legal father can petition for custody and parenting time. However, if a mother believes that the father’s involvement beyond financial support would be detrimental to the child, an attorney can help present a case with the goal of preventing or restricting the father’s parenting time and responsibilities based on what is in the child’s best interests.
Contact a Wheaton Paternity Lawyer
When there are disputes between the mother and father, the process of establishing legal paternity and parental rights can be complicated. At Andrew Cores Family Law Group, we represent both mothers and fathers to help protect the best interests of children. Contact a DuPage County family law attorney today to schedule a free consultation at 630-871-1002.