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What are my rights as an unmarried father?

Given that more couples across the state of Illinois and the entire country are choosing to have children out of wedlock than ever before, it is incredibly important that biological fathers understand their rights and obligations under the law. If you are interested in pursuing child custody and/or visitation rights to your child, it may be helpful to know a little bit more about how paternity is determined and enforced.

As we discussed in an earlier post about the establishment of paternity, having your biological relationship to your child recognized under the law is an incredibly important step to being awarded parental rights. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that until fairly recently, Illinois state and federal family law guidelines largely failed to fully recognize and uphold the paternity rights of unmarried fathers.

A series of cases tried at the U. S. Supreme Court level set precedents, which mandate that unmarried fathers who establish a significant relationship with their biological child have a right to pursue parental rights. It is important to note, however, that your legal paternity must be established before you can engage in custody and/or visitation proceedings.

There are several factors that are taken into consideration when determining paternity. Some of the ways that you can prove your paternity include:

  • Being identified on the child’s birth certificate
  • Illustrating that your child was born during the time you were married to the child’s mother
  • undergoing a medical paternity test

The details concerning your particular paternity case may be unique in several ways. Therefore, the information provided above is not legal advice.

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Johnson, Johnson, & NolanAttorneys At Law

Johnson, Johnson, & Nolan
11 South High Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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