Unlike divorcing couples with children, parents who were never married do not automatically receive rights to parenting time. Instead, they must pursue it. Further, an order requiring the payment of child support does not guarantee parenting time to the paying parent. With this in mind, it is important to understand how you can get time with your child if you were never married.

Why Pursue Parenting Time?

Fathers who are not married to the mother of their child often wonder if it is worth pursuing parenting time with their child. They may be concerned about cost, or they may fear their rights will not be acknowledged by the courts. Rest assured that as long as you are not considered to be a risk to the child’s safety or emotional well-being, it is likely that your presence may be considered a positive influence on the life of your child. Further, studies have shown that children often fare better when they have two loving and connected parents. Since you may be required to financially contribute to the rearing of your child, regardless of whether you pursue parenting time or not, why not consider making an emotional contribution as well?

Unmarried Parents and Paternity

Before a father can seek time with his child, paternity must be established. This can be done one of three ways:

1.       Both parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP).

2.       The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) can issue an Administrative Order of Paternity.

3.       An Illinois circuit court judge can issue a judicial Order of Paternity.

Fathers may either acknowledge paternity without genetic testing, or they may request genetic testing to confirm that the child is biologically theirs. Alternatively, fathers can deny or contest paternity if they do not believe there is a genetic link to the child.

Pursuing Parenting Time – Where to Start

Once paternity is established, it is likely that an order for child support will be entered. Keep in mind that this does not guarantee you time with your child, as parenting time determinations are separate from child support orders for non-married parents. So, if you wish to seek time with your child, speak to a family law attorney about your situation. Not only can your lawyer assist you with filing the appropriate legal paperwork, he or she can also protect your rights to increase your chances of receiving a reasonable amount of time with your child.

Contact Our McHenry County Family Law Attorneys

At Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, we believe fathers play important roles in the lives of their children. If you are facing a difficult situation involving your child, contact an experienced Crystal Lake family lawyer at our firm. We will work hard to protect your parental rights and assist you in obtaining the parenting time that you and your child deserve. Learn more about how we can help with your case by scheduling a free initial consultation. Call our office today at 815-338-3838.





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