Few would argue the importance of fathers. Children who have a supportive, loving father in their lives are more likely to perform well in school, more likely to find stable employment as an adult, and less likely to be incarcerated. Unfortunately, parenting is sometimes seen as a mother’s responsibility. Although times are changing and Courts no longer automatically favor mothers, many fathers wonder if they will be at a disadvantage during divorce or family law proceedings.
Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities
In Illinois, custody and visitation are called “parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.” Illinois Courts do not assume that the mother should have most or all of the parenting time or parental responsibilities. The Court makes all custody-related decisions based on what is best for the child. Sometimes, this means maintaining the “status quo.” For example, if a mother has been the child’s primary caregiver during a separation, the Court may be more likely to award her the majority of the parenting time during a divorce.
Courts in Illinois determine custody using the “best interest” factors listed in Illinois law. These factors include but are not limited to:
- Each parent’s preferences regarding custody arrangements
- The child’s preferences (if old enough to express these wishes)
- Any history of abuse or violence
- The child’s needs
- The child’s adjustment to his or her current home, school, and neighborhood
- Each parent’s past involvement in the child’s life
- The parents’ ability to work together for the child’s best interests
- The distance between the parents’ homes
- Whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate due to abuse, neglect, addiction, mental health issues, or other reasons
Paternity in Illinois
In Illinois, paternity is assumed if the parents are married. However, if an unmarried couple has a child, the father may need to take additional action to establish paternity. The easiest way to do this is for the parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. However, DNA testing may be needed if either parent doubts the presumed father’s paternity. Fathers need to establish paternity before they can gain the right to parenting time or parental responsibilities with the child.
Contact a Palatine Family Law Attorney
Arlington Heights family lawyer Nicholas Richardson provides skilled legal assistance and representation to individuals during divorce, paternity, and child custody matters. Call the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. at847.873.6741 for a confidential consultation.