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Chicago Father's Rights Attorneys

As a father in Chicago, understanding and asserting your parental rights is crucial for maintaining a meaningful relationship with your child. At Chicago Family Attorneys, LLC, our experienced father's rights lawyers are dedicated to helping you navigate the complex legal landscape of parentage, child custody, and visitation rights in Illinois.

Father and his little daughter at sunset

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

Establishing paternity is the foundation of father's rights. Our Chicago paternity attorneys can guide you through the process, which may include:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP)

  • Administrative paternity orders

  • Court-ordered DNA testing

A DNA test is often the most definitive way to prove biological fatherhood. Our paternity lawyers can help arrange testing and use the results to establish your legal rights as a father.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity

The Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) is often the simplest way to establish paternity when both parents agree. Key points about the VAP process include:

  • It can be completed at the hospital when the child is born

  • Both parents must sign the form in the presence of a witness

  • The VAP must be filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

  • Once filed, it has the same legal effect as a court order establishing paternity

  • There is a 60-day period after signing during which either parent can rescind the VAP

The VAP is particularly useful for unmarried parents who want to establish the father's legal rights quickly and avoid court proceedings.

Administrative Paternity Orders

Administrative paternity orders are typically used when:

  • The mother is receiving public assistance

  • Either parent has applied for child support services

  • Paternity needs to be established, but the parents prefer to avoid court

The process involves:

  1. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) initiating the case

  2. Notifying both parents of the paternity action

  3. Offering genetic testing if requested

  4. Issuing an administrative paternity order based on test results or other evidence

Administrative orders can establish paternity and child support obligations but cannot address custody or visitation rights.

Court Ordered Paternity

When paternity is disputed or uncertain, court-ordered DNA testing is often the most definitive solution. The process typically involves:

  1. Filing a petition to establish paternity with the circuit court

  2. Attending an initial court hearing where the judge may order genetic testing

  3. Completing the DNA test at an accredited laboratory

  4. Submitting the test results to the court

  5. A final hearing where the judge issues a paternity order based on the test results

DNA tests for legal paternity must show at least a 99.9% probability of paternity to be considered conclusive in Illinois courts.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity through any of these methods provides several important rights and benefits:

  • Legal recognition of the father-child relationship

  • The father's name can be added to the birth certificate

  • The child gains inheritance rights and eligibility for the father's benefits (e.g., Social Security, veteran's benefits)

  • The father gains the right to seek custody and visitation

  • The ability to establish child support orders

Our paternity lawyers can guide fathers through each of these processes, ensuring all legal requirements are met and fathers' rights are protected. We can assist with completing and filing the necessary paperwork, arranging DNA testing, representing fathers in administrative proceedings or court hearings, and using paternity test results to establish legal rights.By establishing paternity, fathers lay the groundwork for building a legally recognized relationship with their child and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities.

Father and son

Child Custody and Visitation Rights for Fathers in Illinois

Illinois law recognizes the importance of both parents in a child's life and has evolved to provide fathers with stronger rights regarding child custody and visitation. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs these matters, emphasizing the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in all custody and visitation decisions.

Fathers & Joint Custody in Illinois

Illinois courts favor joint custody arrangements when possible, as outlined in 750 ILCS 5/602.7. This allows both parents to share in the decision-making responsibilities for their children. The landmark case of In re Marriage of Perez, 2015 IL App (3d) 140876, reinforced the importance of maximizing both parents' involvement in their children's lives.

Equitable Parenting Time Schedules

The IMDMA presumes that both parents are fit and that maximizing time with both parents is in the child's best interest (750 ILCS 5/602.7(a)). This presumption supports fathers in seeking equitable parenting time. The case of In re Marriage of Coulter, 2012 IL App (3d) 110424, emphasized that courts should strive for parenting time arrangements that allow both parents significant involvement in their children's daily lives.

Protection of Visitation Rights

Even when fathers are not awarded primary custody, Illinois law strongly protects their visitation rights. The case of In re Parentage of J.W., 2013 IL 114817, affirmed that a parent's right to visitation is a fundamental right that should not be restricted unless the court finds that visitation would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.

Considerations For Father's Parenting TIme

When determining approprate parenting time for parents, Illinois courts evaluate several factors as outlined in 750 ILCS 5/602.7(b). These factors include:

  • The wishes of each parent seeking parenting time: Courts consider what each parent desires regarding their time with the child.

  • The child's wishes, considering their maturity: The child's preferences are taken into account, especially if they are mature enough to express reasoned and independent preferences.

  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community: How well the child is adapting to their current living situation, educational environment, and community is a critical factor.

  • The mental and physical health of all parties involved: The health and well-being of both the parents and the child are considered to ensure a safe and stable environment.

  • Each parent's ability to cooperate in child-care decisions: The court assesses how well the parents can work together in making decisions about the child's care.

  • The level of each parent's participation in past significant decision-making for the child: Historical involvement in important decisions regarding the child's upbringing is evaluated.

  • Any prior agreements or conduct between the parents regarding decision-making: Previous arrangements or behaviors that reflect the parents' ability to make joint decisions are taken into account.

  • The distance between the parents' residences and the difficulty of transporting the child: The logistics of travel between the parents' homes and the impact on the child's routine are considered.

  • The willingness of each parent to facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent: Courts look at each parent's commitment to fostering a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.

These factors help ensure that custody and visitation arrangements serve the best interests of the child, promoting their well-being and stability.

Changes To Custody and Visitation Laws

In 2016, Illinois amended its custody laws to replace the terms "custody" and "visitation" with "allocation of parental responsibilities" and "parenting time" respectively. This change, reflected in 750 ILCS 5/602.5 and 750 ILCS 5/602.7, aims to reduce conflict by focusing on parental responsibilities rather than "winning" custody.The case of In re Marriage of Whitehead, 2018 IL App (5th) 170380, interpreted these new provisions, emphasizing that courts should allocate parenting time to maximize both parents' involvement in the child's life, absent evidence that such involvement would be detrimental to the child.

Enforcing Parenting Time For Fathers

If a mother interferes with a father's court-ordered visitation rights, fathers have legal recourse. The case of In re Marriage of Charous, 368 Ill. App. 3d 99 (2006), established that courts can enforce visitation orders through various means, including make-up visitation time, fines, or even a change in the custody arrangement if interference is severe and persistent.

Why Hire Chicago Family Attorneys For Your Father's Rights Case?

When it comes to protecting your rights as a father, you need a law firm that understands the unique challenges fathers face in the family court system. Chicago Family Attorneys, LLC is dedicated to advocating for fathers and ensuring their voices are heard in custody, visitation, and child support matters.


Our experienced team of family law attorneys recognizes that fathers play a crucial role in their children's lives. We believe in the importance of maintaining strong father-child relationships and work tirelessly to help our clients achieve fair and equitable outcomes. With our deep understanding of Illinois family law and years of experience in father's rights cases, we are uniquely positioned to provide the skilled representation you need.


At Chicago Family Attorneys, LLC, we take a compassionate yet assertive approach to father's rights cases. We understand the emotional toll these legal battles can take and provide supportive guidance throughout the process. Our attorneys will:

  • Fight for your right to meaningful parenting time and involvement in your child's life

  • Work to establish or modify fair child support arrangements

  • Advocate for joint custody when appropriate

  • Help you navigate complex paternity issues

  • Protect your rights in cases involving false allegations or parental alienation


We believe that every case is unique, and we take the time to understand your specific situation and goals. Our team will develop a tailored legal strategy designed to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children.


By choosing Chicago Family Attorneys, LLC, you're not just hiring a lawyer – you're gaining a dedicated advocate who will stand by your side and fight for your rights as a father. We are committed to helping you maintain a strong presence in your child's life and ensuring that your role as a father is respected and protected under the law.


Don't let misconceptions about father's rights limit your role in your child's life. Contact Chicago Family Attorneys, LLC today at (312) 971-2581 to schedule a consultation with our experienced father's rights attorneys. Let us help you secure the fair treatment and parental rights you deserve.

Contact A Father's Rights Attorney Today

53 W. Jackson Blvd

Chicago, IL 60604


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