Parental rights of unwed fathers

On behalf of Lake Toback Attorneys

Most Illinois residents are well aware of the issues that men sometimes face when it comes to asserting their parental rights, but the task can be even more difficult for unwed fathers. Due to the complexities of the law, many such fathers are not aware of a few important details about child support and visitation rights. Merely signing a birth certificate as the father of a child will not automatically convey parental rights, which must be awarded by a court.

If a mother files for assistance from the government she will be required to identify the father on the application. Failure to do so may render her ineligible. Should the father be named, the state will initiate an action against him to ensure that he is providing support. A father can be given credit for making support payments even in advance of a court order requiring him to do so, assuming proper documentation is maintained. However, once a father has been ordered by the court to pay child support, any payments made in a manner different than what the court has mandated may run the risk of being considered gifts.

Payment of child support does not automatically give a father visitation rights, which are separate and must be specifically granted by the court. Many child support orders are entered without the court ever considering parental rights.

An unwed father who is concerned about his rights as a parent may wish to speak with an attorney who has experience in family law. The attorney may be able to advise him as to the nature and scope of his visitation rights as well as his other rights and obligations.

Source: ABC Action News, “Five important things that unwed fathers need to know“, Yvette Harrell, October 08, 2013

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Parental rights of unwed fathers