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What Rights Do Unmarried Parents Have?

Posted on in Paternity

DuPage County family law attorneyThe allocation of parental responsibilities, commonly called child custody, can be a complicated part of family law. When a couple who is unmarried has a child, there are different rights and responsibilities applied to each parent than if the couple is married. For example, a woman who gives birth to a child immediately has custody of that child. If an unmarried father wishes to claim legal paternity of the child, he must do so through one of several established ways.

Rights and Responsibilities of Unmarried Mothers

Mothers are automatically considered the primary custodian of a child they bear. This means that they have authority over decisions related to their child’s welfare as well as the responsibility to care for the child. More specifically, they have the right to make decisions about school, childcare, geographical moves, healthcare, religious affiliation, sports, summer camps, travel, and other aspects of the child’s life. It should be noted that there are some extreme cases in which a mother does not get custody of a child she gives birth to. For example, mothers who were found to have been using illegal drugs while pregnant can be disallowed immediate physical or legal custody of their child.

Rights and Responsibilities of Unmarried Fathers

Research shows that children thrive with two loving parents in their lives. Ideally, an unmarried father will want to be a part of his child’s life. If so, he will need to establish paternity. There are several ways a father can do this. The easiest way to establish paternity is for the father to sign an acknowledgement of paternity at the hospital or soon after the child’s birth. A father who does not voluntarily establish paternity can still be made the legal parent of a child through court or administrative action. Once paternity has been established and the father has proven to be a suitable parent, he will have the opportunity to request parenting time (previously called visitation) with the child.

Child Support

All parents are required to financially support any children they have. The parent with less parental responsibility, sometimes called the noncustodial parent, is usually required to make monthly child support payments to the custodial parent. Child support is not always paid by the father to the mother. If a father is the custodial parent and has physical custody of the child more often, he will be awarded child support paid by the mother.

For more information about child custody, child support, parental rights, or paternity issues, contact the experienced Naperville family law attorneys at Pesce Law Group, P.C. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at 630-352-2240.


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