LAKE COUNTY OFFICE: 1603 Barclay Boulevard, Buffalo Grove, IL
COOK COUNTY OFFICE: Downtown Chicago By appointment only
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- Illinois Children of Unwed Parents FAQs -


1) How can an unwed father establish paternity rights?

Under the Parentage Act of 1984, a father and child relationship may be established, and custody, child support, and visitation may be awarded. Either parent, or a third party on behalf of the child, may bring a petition to establish parentage. If the father wishes to establish paternity, he must bring the petition within two years after the child's birth or risk being foreclosed. On the other hand, a petition may be brought by the mother or someone on behalf of the child any time until the child is 18 years old.

2) What are the criteria for custody determination when the parents have never been married to each other?

The same statutory custody factors are applied in parentage cases as in dissolution cases. The standard for determining custody is best interest of the child. Contrary to old common law concepts and cases, which presumed the non-marital child's best interests were served by granting custody to the mother, there is no longer a presumption in favor of either parent.