Nowadays, more than one-third of children born in the US are born out of wedlock. It’s becoming increasingly common for all different kinds of couples from all walks of life to have children without the formalities of marriage. With the recent influx of children being born to unmarried parents, the law regarding parentage, the Illinois Parentage Act, has recently changed as well. The Illinois Parentage Act addresses the rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents and their children by recognizing parent-child relationships as well as addressing issues of support, custody, and parenting time. Parentage cases often times progress similarly to traditional divorce cases, where issues of child support and parenting time are typically litigated.

The Illinois Parentage Act has standardized the rights of unmarried fathers with married fathers in respect to parenting time of their children. If you believe you are the father of a child, you can seek to have paternity established by court order, which will thereby earn you the right to request parenting time. Parenting time is decided by the best interests of the children. Joint custody/joint decision making is appropriate when both parties can communicate and cooperate when deciding on matters regarding the child’s education, upbringing, willingness to encourage a relationship with the other parent, and health. In most cases, the noncustodial parent is entitled visitation rights, although those rights are limited to what is in the best interest of the child.

Child support in parentage cases is generally settled using the same criteria that apply to divorcing couples. The objective of any paternity case is for your children to still benefit from the same advantages and lifestyle that he or she would have had if the family had remained together. The court has to award a statutory minimum percentage of the payor’s income to the parent with custody, unless there is a significant reason to do otherwise. The child’s father may be directed by the court to pay the mother for expenses incurred by her pregnancy and the delivery of the child, as well as other expenses of raising the child accumulated after its birth.

At Coladarci and Coladarci, our attorneys have lots of skill and experience with contested and agreed paternity cases and ensure that you and your children will receive the best possible outcome in our hands.