In the state of Illinois, the courts have granted parents specific rights when it comes to paternity cases. Both parents have the privilege and responsibility of providing for their children. Mothers can legally defend their right to custody or seek custody if they do not have it. They must help pay for certain expenses such as day care, education, health insurance, medical costs, dental care and vision care. They can contribute to decisions regarding the upbringing of the children in many matters. One of the most important mother’s rights includes the right to financial help from the father if she is the custodial parent.
In Illinois, an unmarried mother has even more legal rights to her children than a married mother does. Paternity must be legally established before a father has rights to the child. This is true if the parents were not married at the time of conception or birth. If there is a question about paternity, the state of Illinois provides for a legal document called a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP). Both parents can sign this document at birth or later in front of a witness. Even if the parents live together, are engaged or plan to marry, they should still sign the VAP.
However, if the parents were married at the time of conception or birth, then that man is legally considered to be the father of the child. In some cases, the husband may not be the child’s father even if he was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. He and the mother must sign a separate form in front of a witness that denies his paternity. Both biological parents can then proceed with signing the VAP.
In Illinois, the court prefers to award joint custody to both parents. However, the top priority is not the father’s rights or the mother’s rights but the welfare of the child. The courts consider a variety of factors before they make a final custody determination. The commission of domestic violence by one spouse toward the other affects joint custody negatively for the violent parent. Illinois provides a Joint Parenting Agreement that addresses legal information regarding the child’s care and mediation information.
The parent who does not have custody still receives visitation rights unless the courts decide that such visitation would jeopardize the child. In some cases, the courts offer visitation at private or public locations.