Fathers’ Rights Basics – Why Establish Paternity in Illinois?
Unmarried fathers often assume that an agreement with the mother, and perhaps some financial assistance, will satisfy their desire to be a part of the child’s life. Sadly, this is rarely the case. Relationships break down, and issues along the way may jeopardize a father’s time and say-so in the child’s life. Thankfully, there is a way to protect all your fathers’ rights. Learn more in the following sections, including how an experienced attorney can help.
Legally Establishing a Father’s Rights
Although fathers can sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (“VAP”) to have their name placed on the birth certificate, it does not establish the father’s rights to spend time with the child, nor does it give them any decision-making power in the child’s life. Only a judge can provide these rights. As such, fathers are encouraged to seek legal rights over their child, even if their name is on the child’s birth certificate.
Paying Child Support Does Not Establish Rights
There are many reasons that you may be paying child support. Perhaps you are paying it out of choice because you recognize that the child needs and deserves financial contributions from you. Alternatively, the mother may have pursued support on her own, or the state may have pursued it on her behalf if she applied for and is receiving state benefits (i.e. food or cash assistance). Unfortunately, you cannot establish your rights as a father by simply paying child support. Instead, you must pursue legal rights through the court separately.
Failed Agreements Are Exceptionally Common
Most of the family law cases that involve unwed parents started with an agreement between the parties, but somewhere along the way, that arrangement stopped being honored. Perhaps the father was unable to pay child support, and the mother decided to deny him time with the child. Alternatively, the mother may enter a new relationship, and her partner may not be supportive of the bond between the child and their biological father; in response, the mother may begin to restrict time with the child, or they may stop contacting the child’s father regarding important decision-making matters.
Regardless of what causes the breakdown in the agreement, both the child and father may suffer if matters become contentious or the bond between the father and child is either severed or broken. Because of this, unwed fathers should take preemptive steps to ensure paternity is established and an agreement is filed with the courts as soon as possible.
Establishing Rights Protects Your Child
If the mother of your child becomes incapacitated, loses the child during an investigation with Child Protective Services, or suffers an untimely death, the courts will look to place the child with their next of kin. As their legally established father, you would be contacted first. Fail to establish your right and you may have to fight in court, just to gain any rights to your child at all.
Contact Our DuPage County Fathers’ Rights Attorneys
Davi Law Group, LLC protects the rights and best interests of children. Since the loving and consistent presence of a child’s father is just as important as the mother’s, our duty extends to standing up for the rights of fathers. Ask how our DuPage County fathers’ rights attorneys can assist with your paternity case. Call 630-580-6373 and schedule a personalized consultation with our offices today.