Being a teen parent can pose unique challenges, both from a practical and legal standpoint. Whether you are a teenager expecting or parenting a child, or a parent of a minor who is themselves a parent, an experienced family law attorney in the DuPage County area can work with your family to protect the best interests of the minors involved - both parent and child.
Legal Issues That Can Arise Related to Teen Parenthood
Some of the legal issues facing teenage parents stem from being unmarried, since most teens ultimately decide not to marry when expecting a child. Teen parents and their legal guardians should discuss with their family law attorney issues related to:
- Paternity - In Illinois, paternity is not automatically established for an unmarried father, and neither is simply signing the birth certificate enough to create legal fatherhood. Your family law attorney in Illinois can advise you regarding the steps necessary to determine paternity, depending on whether both parents agree about who the father is.
- Child support - Teen parents in Illinois can be ordered to pay child support. Under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, if a minor parent is unable to pay child support obligations and the child's primary caregiver - usually the child's mother - is receiving government benefits, the parents of the minor ordered to pay support (the child's grandparents) may themselves be required to pay the child support instead.
- Grandparents' Rights - Some degree of conflict inevitably arises when teens are parenting under the roof of their own parents. Ultimately, the parent retains the right to make the parenting decisions for the child, even when that parent is a minor -unless the minor is determined by the court to be unfit, or willingly signs over custody or guardianship to the grandparent.
- Emancipation - In Illinois, 16- and 17-year-olds can become legally emancipated - and thus able to work, move out, sign a lease, and enter into contracts - but only if both parents agree. This means that even though grandparents may not be legally entitled to make parenting decisions for their grandchild, the minor parent does not have the freedom to move out of the family home without permission.
This issue can become especially thorny when a teenage couple wishes to live together with their child in the home of one set of grandparents, and the other set of grandparents does not approve. A skilled family law attorney can help your own family navigate these complicated matters.
Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Illinois
Our dedicated DuPage County family law attorneys have worked with many families involving teenage parents and understand the complex family dynamics teen parenthood can bring. We can guide you through the process of protecting your parenting rights and fulfilling your parenting responsibilities.