Fathers have an equal right to parenting time with their child as mothers do. Unfortunately, fathers are sometimes viewed as a less important nurturing influence in their child’s life, an attitude which could negatively affect the amount of time they get to spend with their child.

If you are a divorcing or unmarried father who is worried about preserving your relationship with your child, you could benefit from a consultation with an experienced Joliet father’s rights lawyer. A dedicated family attorney from Reidy Law Office LLC could assist you by:

  • Explaining your legal rights
  • Establishing paternity
  • Negotiating parenting time and responsibilities
  • Drafting court papers to enforce rights
  • Representing your interests in court
  • Assisting with any recurrent issues

Physical Custody and Parenting Time

State laws applicable to Joliet allow equal rights for fathers and mothers with respect to parenting time with their child. However, the old term “custody” has been replaced with “allocation of parental responsibilities” and “parenting time.”

Physical custody used to refer to the time spent with either parent. One parent was typically the custodial parent and the other parent was granted visitation with the child.

Today, parenting time may be jointly shared, or one parent may have “majority parenting time” where the child lives primarily with that parent. If one parent has majority parenting time, the other parent should have a written parenting schedule.

Legal Custody and Parental Responsibility

Legal custody used to refer to the right to make major decisions in a child’s life such as religious upbringing, education, health, and extracurricular activities. That term has been replaced in Illinois by “allocation of parental responsibility.”

The court may grant parental responsibility to one or both parents depending on the circumstances. Each situation is unique and there is not a one size fits all as to how the court will likely determine allocation if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

Unmarried Parents

If you are an unmarried father seeking parental rights, you must establish paternity. In order to do this, you may voluntarily establish paternity through a form called a Voluntary Acceptance of Paternity (“VAP”), sign the birth certificate of the child in question, submit to a DNA test, or open court testimony. Once paternity is established, you may then request a parenting plan through court, or a father’s rights attorney in Joliet from our firm could do so on your behalf.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

Although the needs and desires of parents are important, modern courts consider “the best interests of the child” to be the primary consideration when developing parenting plans for a family. There are a variety of factors that courts consider when ordering parenting plans using the “best interests” standard, including:

  • The relationship between the child and parents
  • Any important third-party relationships
  • Desires of the child, if age-appropriate
  • The parent’s wishes and reasons for those requests
  • The child’s involvement in school and community
  • Physical and mental health of parents and child
  • Willingness of parents to facilitate a relationship between the other parent and child
  • Any abuse issues

Father’s Right to Parenting Time

If the court awards majority parenting time to a child’s mother, you still have the right as the child’s father to an adequate parenting schedule. Unless there is an issue of abuse, you maintain this right even if you are not the “residential parent.”

When the court orders parenting time for the non-residential parent, the parent’s schedule, the age of the child, and the child’s activities. A typical order for the non-residential parent can take a variety of forms, but a Joliet father’s rights lawyer could help you establish which arrangement would best meet your needs and serve your child’s best interests.

Speak With a Joliet Father’s Rights Attorney

Even though modern trends acknowledge the importance of fathers in a child’s life, stereotypes still exist. You may need the help of a Joliet father’s rights lawyer to exercise your rights.

The seasoned legal team at Reidy Law Office LLC could make the extra effort to fully inform you about your rights as a parent. We are committed to assisting you with negotiating the complex and confusing laws that surround father’s rights.

Your rights are important, and our staff is ready to help. Call (708) 580-6767 today to schedule a consultation.