When parents don’t agree about how to best support their children, they may find themselves arguing in family court. Some parents disagree about the best way to divide parenting time, while others have very different preferences and beliefs related to the education or health care that their children receive.
Couples going through a divorce will often need to litigate certain family law matters, as will unmarried parents who end their relationship with one another. A father who did not marry the mother of his child sometimes needs to take an extra step before going to court to ask her visitation or parental rights. He will first need to establish paternity.
Does that process inevitably entail taking the mother to court?
It is possible to establish paternity with paperwork alone
Although there are some people who end up going to court over paternity issues, it is common for people to resolve paternity matters without involving a family law judge. As the father of a child, you will require the cooperation of the mother if you want to establish paternity without going to family court.
The two of you can fill out a document known as a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. You will then submit the document to the state to add your name to the birth certificate. You could potentially do this right at the hospital after the birth of your child or anytime until they become an adult.
Mothers are often happy to acknowledge the father of their child in a legal sense because that will mean that their child has a better connection to their extended family and more protection if anything were to happen to the mother. Unfortunately, not all unmarried mothers will cooperate with the fathers of their children when they want to establish paternity.
Sometimes going to court is necessary
While trying to minimize conflict is an admirable goal, it is important to recognize that sometimes you need to stand up for what is right and fight for your relationship with your children. If the mother of your child will not communicate with you or refuses to acknowledge you as the father, you may have no choice but to ask the Illinois family courts to intervene. They can order genetic testing, and if that testing affirms that you are the father, then you can move forward with your request for shared custody.
Formally establishing paternity with or without the cooperation of a child’s mother is a key step on the path toward fully asserting your parental rights.