Mt. Prospect paternity lawyerTaking care of a child is a monumental task that involves both physical caretaking and making decisions that impact a child’s daily and long-term life. While the specific duties shift over time as the child ages, the responsibilities of a parent never completely go away. Most parents perform these as simply a part of fulfilling this role, and a parent may never stop to consider whether he or she qualifies as a legal parent, or what this designation even means.

The designation of legal parent brings a number of rights and obligations that only certain people are eligible to receive, regardless of the love and care a person may give to a child. Specifically, legal parents are the only adults authorized to make decisions on behalf of the child, particularly those related to education and medical treatment. In addition, only a legal parent is permitted to request access to the child and parenting time in the event of divorce or separation. With all of the non-traditional family structures that make up society today, this status is not the given it was in the past.

Who Is a Legal Parent?

The law is fairly clear on who, when, and how a person is recognized as a legal parent, and practically speaking, fathers are the most affected by these laws. The reason for that dichotomy is that mothers automatically become a child’s legal parent upon giving birth to a child (aside from surrogacy situations), but fathers are not always so easily tied to the birth of a child. However, the law does recognize four situations in which a person is considered a legal parent:

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establishing paternity, parental rights, Palatine family law attorney, young parents, parentagePaternity is a process unmarried men must go through to gain legal recognition as a child’s parent in order to receive and assume all of the associated rights and obligations. Parenthood can be a daunting responsibility, and sometimes young men and women facing an unexpected pregnancy lack motivation or support for undertaking this central role.

Young men, in particular, may have a hard time adjusting to the news of an unexpected pregnancy, since they can more easily remove themselves from the situation. However, many young parents do want the chance to actively and responsibly raise their children. Young, single parents are at a particular disadvantage. However, a program offered by a Chicago-based organization, One United Hope, gives young parents parenting education and continuing support through in-home visits until a child is three years of age.

Young, unmarried fathers may not realize they do not automatically receive parental rights, despite the financial and physical efforts they provide to care for the child. Establishing paternity gives important rights to the father and provides critical financial benefits to the child meant to create a level of financial security until age 18.

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Posted on in Paternity

Palatine family law attorney, establish paternityThe birth of a child brings joy and excitement to parents, family and friends. This event also marks the beginning of the time a parent has to shape the child into the type of person he or she will develop into as an adult. People commonly assume that all parents have the full bevy of legal rights typically held upon birth. This is correct for mothers and married couples. However, unwed fathers have no right to custody or visitation with a child until paternity is legally established.

Paternity is the legal recognition that a man is the father of a child. The establishment of paternity is necessary for unwed fathers who wish to assume the all the rights and obligations parents have over a child. Illinois offers several options to confirm paternity; however, not every legal procedure has the same effect. Therefore, understanding the consequences of each alternative is important when determining which to choose.

DNA testing is the gold standard for proving the paternity of a child, and is used today to unravel mysteries around unknown parentage. People are now even submitting DNA samples to online ancestry websites to find lost relatives and identify absent parents. Just a few years ago, this type of search would have been impossible, but advances in technology continually make connecting with others easier. Unmarried men wishing to remain an active presence in their children's lives need to understand the legal requirements to gain their parental rights.

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Palatine family law attorney, single mothers and parentageRecently, a new Bill that would have amended the Vital Records Act, sponsored by Representatives John D. Cavaletto and Keith Wheeler, was filed in Springfield, Illinois. If passed, the new law would have placed significant restrictions on a single mother’s ability to obtain financial assistance from the government if she could not establish the paternity of her child at the time of his or her birth. However, resulting public outcry led to the hasty tabling of the Bill and the loss of support from both sponsors.

While support has been withdrawn for the time being, the Bill's introduction still raises concerns about the future of public assistance for single mothers in Illinois.

House Bill 6064

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Posted on in Paternity

rescinding paternity, Palatine Family Law Attorney

In Illinois, if parents are not married at the time of a child’s birth, then the child’s paternity must be established by other means. One way to establish paternity in Illinois is to voluntarily acknowledge one's paternity. To do this, both parents must agree that the man is the child’s father.

However, sometimes, a mother or father later regrets the decision to acknowledge paternity. Perhaps one party was pressured into signing, or the father of the child was mistaken. Fortunately, there is a way to rescind the acknowledgment.

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