Father’s Rights

Fathers have more rights today than they had years ago when mothers were almost always granted primary custody of the children, but many divorcing fathers still must struggle to obtain them. In today’s world, both parents often work, fathers may be the stay-at-home parent, and family dynamics and parenting laws have changed accordingly to be gender-neutral; however, in reality, mothers may still wind up having more benefits and control. Some mothers will try to deny visitation or even falsely accuse a father of abuse to keep him from his child.

This can happen even though the importance of children having a father’s presence has been recognized. Children who do not have a father in their lives suffer many negative effects, such as being more likely to use drugs or drop out of school. For the sake of your children, if you are in a situation where you have to fight for your father’s rights, custody or visitation, you need to have an experienced attorney on your side.

The seasoned and compassionate Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec understand the stresses of divorce and recognize the concerns parents have for the well-being of their children. If you are a father with problems involving paternity, custody, parenting time and responsibility, child support, or any other father’s rights issue, we can help. We offer a free initial consultation to examine your individual situation and help come up with solutions that are best for you and your children.

What is Illinois Law?

Illinois law is concerned most with the needs of the child. The law recognizes that all children have a right to the mental, physical, monetary, and emotional support of their parents, and that “the parent and child relationship, including support obligations, extends equally to every child and to every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents.” Child visitation rights are not automatically the rights of either parent, but are considered the rights of the child.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act has the goal of not diminishing the parent with less parenting time and of allowing that parent to still be equal in making decisions. The law requires that divorcing parents come up with a parenting plan that deals with visitation. If parents do not agree on a fair plan, fathers often wind up having to fight for their rights in family court, especially if they are denied access to their children. The courts will then make decisions regarding child custody, child support, and visitation rights according to what is in the “best interests of the child.”

In determining what is in the child’s best interests and setting up how parenting time and parental responsibilities should be allocated, the courts consider factors such as:

  • The wishes of both parents
  • The wishes of the child, depending on age and maturity
  • The amount of time and resources each parent has put into taking care of the child in the preceding two years
  • Prior agreements between the parents
  • The relationship between each parent and the child
  • The interaction between the two parents and any other adult who may significantly affect the child’s interests
  • The distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • Any adjustments a child must make in communities, schools, and homes
  • Any history of domestic violence by either parent
  • Any other factor that the court finds relevant.

Illinois judges are not supposed to hold one parent in higher regard than another to ensure that fathers have just as much of a legal right to child custody as mothers do. However, it is up to the father to show that it is in his child’s best to spend as much time with him as possible.

Establishing Paternity

In some cases, it is necessary to establish paternity so that the child’s biological father becomes the legal father, too. This is easier if the parents are married, and unmarried parents need to take steps to establish paternity, especially if the situation is contested.

The establishment of paternity allows a father to enforce his right to be a part of his child’s life. It also allows both parents to enforce the child’s right to receive financial support, including contribution to medical costs, daycare costs, and education costs.

Illinois law provides several ways for parents to establish paternity:

  • Marrying after the child is born.
  • Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). This involves filling out a form at birth that acknowledges paternity so that the father’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate before the family leaves the hospital. Signing the VAP form provides parental rights, but parents will still need to take any custody, visitation and support issues through the Illinois family court system.
  • Paternity action brought to the court. Paternity actions can be brought by either the child’s mother, any male who believes he is or is identified as the child’s father, the child with the help of legal representation, or a government agency that has custody of the child. An order of paternity can be issued by a judge who will decide whether the alleged father is the baby’s legal and biological father and formally establish paternity.
  • Paternity order issued by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Child Support Services

Establishing paternity may be simple when it is done with the consent of both parents, but when parentage is contested, it may result in a legal battle. As science and the law have evolved, so too has the use of paternity tests to establish facts and secure rights under the law.

Too many fathers wind up going through an emotional, stressful fight in order to stay in contact with their children. If you are faced with any paternity issues, it makes sense to consult an experienced family law attorney to avoid making mistakes that can be costly both financially and emotionally.


Laws regarding parental rights and obligations are complicated, and if you make a mistake you will have to deal with the results for years. If you have questions about your rights as a father, you should contact an experienced attorney to be sure you and your children are protected.

The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws, the courts and the system and can guide you through the process. We represent and advise clients in all types of father’s rights matters and have a long history of success.

Don’t delay. For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County lawyer, call or contact us online or call to set up a free initial consultation.

Recent Family Law Results

During trial four experts all testified against our client the Judge found it was in the best interest of the child that our client be awarded custody. We have successfully represented clients in numerous child custody cases.

Child Custody

We recently analyzed a case whereby the opposing side was seeking a substantial award of maintenance against our client. After a thorough review of the facts and circumstances and several hearings, our client’s obligation to pay maintenance was limited to two years at half of what his former spouse was seeking.

Alimony (Maintenance/Support)

After our client voluntarily changed employment we were able to obtain a substantial reduction in child support payments. We have also stopped such reductions when representing clients receiving child support.

Child Support

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Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 312-388-7882

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