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Children Born Out of Wedlock

The Rights and Duties of Mother and Father

One-third of the children born in the United States are born out of wedlock. Three-fourths of children of teenagers are born out of wedlock. The law creates rights and duties for parents who have a child born out of wedlock.

What significance is there in placing the father’s name on the birth certificate?

If it is without the man’s consent, it is of no significance. If it is with his consent it is evidence of paternity, but does not establish paternity. The law states that the name of the father should not be entered without his consent.

Where the parents are in agreement is there a simplified procedure for establishing paternity?

Yes. This can be accomplished by the signing and witnessing of a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage. The voluntary acknowledgment must be signed by each parent and the signatures of each parent must be witnessed. The statement should also contain the social security numbers of the parents.

This voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be used as a basis for seeking a child support order without any further legal proceedings to establish paternity. This acknowledgment does not establish an obligation for child support. Child support can only be established by a court order or administrative order by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

What is the Putative Father Registry?

To keep from forfeiting his parental rights, a father must register his claim for paternity within 30 days after the child’s birth. The registration is with the Department of Children and Family Services.

May a father bring court proceedings for custody of the child?

Yes. There is no gender bias in favor of the mother. The child’s custody is determined on what is in the best interest of the child. If the father shows no, or little, interest in the pregnancy or the delivery, does not contribute to the pregnancy and birth expenses, does not contribute to the support of the child, and he does not attempt to visit the child, he will have virtually no chance of gaining custody.

Is a father of a child born out of wedlock entitled to visitation?

Yes. He may obtain a court order for visitation.

How is paternity proved?

The usual method is by DNA testing. These test results can pinpoint if a man is a child’s father with better than a 99 percent likelihood.

How much child support will the court order?

For one child, 20% of the payor’s net income. The term “net income” is defined by the statute. The courts seldom deviate from this. In addition, if the mother is employed outside of the home, the father is usually ordered to pay half of the daycare expenses for the child. The noncustodial parent is also usually required to maintain health insurance for the child.

What if the mother wants to place the child for adoption?

If the identity of the father is known, he must consent to the adoption (unless he did not register with the Putative Father Registry within 30 days of the birth of the child) or grounds for unfitness, such as abandonment or desertion, must exist. If the identity of the father is not known, a “To Whom It May Concern” notice must be published in a newspaper.

What compensation may a mother receive if she places her child for adoption?

The mother’s medical and hospital bills may be paid. In addition, the mother’s reasonable living expenses (costs of lodging, food and clothing) from 120 days before the mother’s delivery date to 60 days after the birth of the child may be paid. For the living expenses to be paid there must be a prior court order authorizing the payments.

Can the birth mother or birth parents select who will adopt the child?

Yes. Some attorneys including Gitlin & Busche and some adoption agencies engage in what is known as “open adoptions.” In an open adoption usually the birth parents will review written information about people who wish to adopt a child and make a selection on that basis, or they may choose to interview some of the applicants. This can be done on an anonymous, that is, first name basis, or there may be no anonymity.

What is “removal?”

“Removal,” as used in Illinois family law, means moving out-of-state with a child.

I have custody of my non-marital child. Does Illinois law prevent me from moving out-of-state with the child without permission of the court and the non-custodial parent?

Yes, if the court has entered an order for custody and visitation of the non-marital child. Illinois law changed in 2003 to prevent parents of non-marital children from moving out of state without the court’s permission.

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