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What Are My Rights as a Father in Illinois?

Posted in Divorce, Family Law, Visitation on Monday, February 19th, 2024

Understanding parental rights in Illinois is crucial for fathers. Many fathers may feel concerned that their interests will be overlooked in certain family law matters. At Sabuco Beck, P.C., we recognize the significance of these rights. We are deeply committed to helping fathers defend and assert their rights, ensuring that they have the support and guidance needed to navigate the complexities of the legal system and protect their role as active, involved parents in their children’s lives. With our dedication, we strive to provide comprehensive legal representation that empowers fathers and safeguards their rights every step of the way.

Fathers’ Rights to Parenting Time

Under Illinois’ Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the concept commonly referred to as child custody is actually called the allocation of parental responsibilities. Parental responsibilities are broken into two parts – decision-making authority (sometimes known in other states as legal custody) and parenting time, which includes what many people think of as physical custody and visitation.

When determining the allocation of parental responsibilities, courts assume that both parents are fit and are advised by the law to avoid putting restrictions on parental rights unless there is substantial evidence that spending time with one parent could “endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.”

Courts generally aim for “reasonable parenting time” for each parent. Fathers are encouraged to request equal parenting time whenever appropriate and present arguments demonstrating why spending significant time with dad is beneficial for the children.

Right to Decision-Making Authority

The process for allocating decision-making authority is similar to that of parenting time, and Illinois family courts generally prefer to allocate joint decision-making arrangements so long as doing so is in the best interest of the child. Decision-making power includes the right to handle significant issues like education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.

Decision-making authority provides fathers a say in vital decisions impacting their children’s welfare and upbringing. Fathers who are concerned about how divorce or separation will impact their decision-making authority are advised to seek professional legal guidance.

Duty to Financially Support Children

Alongside rights come responsibilities. Both parents are expected to contribute to their children’s financial needs. The court determines child support amounts based on income levels, parenting time arrangements, and other factors. Traditionally, fathers were the ones most often ordered to pay child support, although with more families relying on two incomes, it is now more common for fathers to receive support payments. Whether paying or receiving child support, both parents have a right to a child support amount that is reasonable given the circumstances.

Protection Against False Accusations

During contentious custody battles, allegations of abuse or negligence may surface. However, these accusations require substantial evidence. Illinois law safeguards fathers against false or unproven claims of child abuse, drug use, violence, and more. Diligent documentation of parenting time can be an effective countermeasure against fabricated allegations.

Right to Respect from the Court System

Family court personnel and judges are obligated to treat fathers respectfully throughout legal proceedings. Fathers have legal recourse if they feel they have experienced bias or discrimination impacting their divorce or custody case. Concerns about prejudice should be raised professionally and respectfully. Documenting all interactions can support an appeal down the line.

Contact Our Attorneys for a Consultation

Understanding your rights as a father in Illinois is crucial to ensuring your active involvement in your children’s lives. If you’re grappling with custody disputes or proceedings, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation. Our experienced team at Sabuco Beck, P.C. is ready to help you navigate these complex issues and defend your rights as a parent. Remember, knowledge of legal rights is power for fathers committed to maximizing and protecting their involvement in their children’s lives before, during, and after a divorce. Contact us today, and let us help you uphold your rights.

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