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As recently as one generation ago, most children had two married parents and grew up in “traditional families.” Regardless of whether they were happy together, parents generally did not get divorced and, as a result, Illinois had fairly rigid child custody laws.
For better or worse, times have changed. Illinois law has been updated in many ways to reflect the growing diversity of family structures, and one way this benefits unmarried parents is in their shared right to have a say over their children’s issues. For parents who have never been married, and fathers in particular, it is important to establish a relationship in a child’s life so that when certain things happen, like the mother wanting to move out of state with a child, the father is able to participate in the decision-making process.
The first thing unmarried fathers must do is establish the paternity of their child. This can be done in several ways, but for parents who agree on the child’s parentage, a simple Voluntary Acknowledgement (VAP) form can be signed by both parents in the hospital at the child’s birth.
If the mother contests paternity, the alleged father can request DNA testing of the child. Once he has established he is the child’s father, he can pursue his right to have a relationship with the child, including important decision-making responsibilities.
Illinois courts no longer use the terms “custody” and “visitation.” Rather, they divide issues relating to children into two categories: Parental responsibilities, or important decision-making authority, and parenting time, or time a parent spends with a child in their care.
Courts take many different factors into account when making decisions about parental responsibilities and parenting time, including each parent’s income, stability, housing situation, and relationship with the child. However, if both parents share parental responsibilities and parenting time, and the mother wants to move the child out of state (or within more than a certain distance out of the Illinois border), she must get permission from the father or the court. If the father has a strong relationship with the child, and the child is doing well where he or she currently lives, it may be possible to successfully object to the child moving.
At Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, we appreciate the importance of establishing and maintaining a close relationship with your child. Our skilled DuPage County child relocation attorneys have experience objecting to child relocation, and can also petition for child relocation if necessary. We work closely with you to help make your parenting agreement what you need it to be. Call our office today at 630-920-8855 and schedule your free initial consultation.