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How Are Parental Rights Established for an Unmarried Couple?

 Posted on February 27, 2020 in Family Law Blog

Lombard parenting time attorney Even when a separating couple has the best intentions to part ways and co-parent peacefully, the end of a relationship can create tense and stressful situations. Unlike spouses who are divorcing, a couple who is not married can separate without the need to legally dissolve their relationship. However, if a couple has a child together, the end of a relationship requires more planning and decision-making. This process can become contentious, especially if the parties disagree on parenting matters such as the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. If you are facing a child custody dispute, a family law attorney can help you explore your options and advise you of the steps you can take to achieve a favorable outcome.

Establishing Paternity

For a married couple, there is usually no need to establish parental rights. According to Illinois law, when a child is born to a married couple, the spouses are assumed to be the child's legal parents. However, if a child is born to an unmarried couple, the father may not automatically be considered the child's legal parent. In these cases, paternity may need to be established either through a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form, through an Administrative Paternity Order, or through an Order of Paternity issued through the courts. After the father's parental rights have been established, the parents may determine how to address custody of the child.

How Child Custody Is Determined

The allocation of parenting responsibilities, formerly called child custody, is decided on an individual, case-by-case basis, which means there is no universal arrangement that is followed for divorcing or unmarried parents. When a non-married couple breaks up, they will typically use one of two methods to create a parenting plan:

  • Reaching an agreement outside of court through negotiation or mediation

  • Litigating the case in court under the discretion of the judge

Typically, child custody disputes will only need to be resolved in court if the parents cannot reach an agreement between themselves. When making decisions about child custody, a judge will consider a variety of factors, including:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent

  • The overall health and well-being of each parent, as it relates to parenting capabilities

  • The child’s relationship with the extended family of each parent

  • Whether one parent already had a history as the primary caregiver

  • The wishes of the child, if the child is old enough to express a mature opinion

  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent or a member of their household

Depending on the circumstances involved in an individual case, the arrangements made for the allocation of parenting responsibilities and parenting time may vary. In some cases, parents may share equal amounts of parenting time. However, in other situations, one parent may have the majority of parenting time, while the other parent has scheduled visits on a weekly or biweekly basis. In rare cases in which a child's safety and well-being may be at risk while in the care of one parent, supervised visitation may be granted, and a social worker or other person may be required to be present during that parent's parenting time.

Contact a Lombard, IL Family Law Attorney

If you and your partner are newly broken up, and you disagree about how to share child custody, fighting for your rights as a parent can be emotionally exhausting. A DuPage County parenting time lawyer can aid you throughout this complex legal process. At A. Traub & Associates, we will protect your parental rights and your child's best interests, regardless of the circumstances of your case. To request a confidential consultation, call us today at 630-426-0196.


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