Research shows that fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives is associated with better academic achievement, intellectual functioning, and social skills. Children with absent fathers are more likely to suffer from mental health problems like depression. Unfortunately, some fathers do not see their kids as often as they want because they are unaware of their rights. If you have established the paternity of your child and you are not a danger to your child’s well-being, you may be able to secure visitation or parenting time. However, you may need to take certain steps to assert this right.
You Must Establish Paternity First
If you are interested in spending more time with your children, you may need to take certain steps to establish your parental rights. Before you are given the right to parenting time with your child, you must establish paternity. “Paternity” refers to the legal relationship between a father and his child.
In Illinois, unwed fathers can establish paternity by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. However, you will need the mother’s signature on the VAP form as well. If she denies that you are the child’s father or will not cooperate, you may need to establish paternity through an administrative order or court order. You may need to submit to DNA testing to prove that you are the child’s father. A DNA sample is taken from your mouth using a cotton swab and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Once paternity has been established, you can have your name added to the child’s birth certificate and seek an order for parenting time.
Getting a Court Order for Visitation
Illinois treats mothers and fathers the same when it comes to parenting time. Unless there is evidence that you are not fit to properly care for your child, you have just as much right to see your children as the mother does. You can “petition” or ask the court for parenting time by filing a Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. Once there is court-ordered parenting time, you have the legal right to see your child.
You and the child’s mother may be able to agree on a parenting time schedule. For example, you may have the children Monday through Wednesday and she has the children Thursday through Sunday. If you cannot reach an agreement about parenting time, the court will likely require you to attend family law mediation. If you cannot reach an agreement during mediation, the court may make a decision about the parenting time schedule for you.
Contact a Will County Child Custody Lawyer
The process of establishing paternity and petitioning the court for parenting time can be complicated and frustrating—especially if the other parent is uncooperative. For help, turn to the skilled Joliet family law attorneys at [[title]]. Call us at [[phone]] for a confidential, personalized consultation.