Parentage FAQs for Unmarried Parents

Arlington Heights Family Law Paternity Attorney

At Cosley Law Office, we are committed to helping parents of all kinds with their child-related legal matters. We are particularly sensitive to the needs of unmarried parents. If you are an unmarried parent, our team has the knowledge, experience, and resources to assist you in protecting your rights and serving your child's best interests.

Q. My girlfriend is pregnant and I want to stay involved. How can I become the child's legal father?

A. If you and your girlfriend are certain that you are the child's biological father, you can both sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP), which is typically available at the hospital at the time of the baby's birth. If you are not 100 percent sure, you could wait to sign the VAP until you have had a DNA test done. However, if your girlfriend refuses to sign the VAP for any reason, you may need to file a petition to establish paternity with the court.

Q. I am a single mother. Do I have the right to receive child support from my child's father?

A. Technically, the right to receive child support belongs to the child, but in practice, you can file for an order of child support. You could also ask for help with paying for additional expenses, such as the child's medical care, daycare, schooling, and extracurricular activities. Keep in mind that only a legal parent can be ordered to pay child support. If your child does not have a second legal parent, you will need to establish legal parentage (paternity) before you can seek support from the other parent.

Q. Can my child's mother stop me from seeing my son or daughter?

A. When a child is born to unmarried parents, Illinois law gives full custodial responsibility to the child's mother. She has the authority to choose whether you can interact with the child or not. Once you establish your legal parentage of the child, however, you can petition the court for parenting time and a share of parental responsibilities. If your child's mother prevented you from being a part of the child's life prior to establishing parentage, her actions are likely to be considered by the court.

Q. I broke up with my son's father. Am I entitled to a share of the property that we owned together?

A. Apart from child support, a family court in Illinois will not get involved in property disputes between unmarried couples who decide to break up. You could potentially pursue the matter in civil court. In such a situation, you are not entitled to receive alimony or maintenance either, as these considerations are reserved, by law, for those who were legally married.

Q. Can I claim my daughter on my taxes even though she lives with her mother most of the time?

A. In most cases, the parent with the majority of the parenting time will claim the child on his or her annual tax return. However, there may be exceptions depending on your circumstances. Our attorney can help you analyze your situation and help you reach a resolution regarding your tax obligations so that both you and your child's other parent have the resources you need.

Q. I would like to be more active in my child's life. Could I ask for additional parenting time and more parental responsibilities?

A. For a parent who has not been very active in the life of their child, improving as a parent can be an uphill battle. It is possible for you to ask for more parenting time and parental responsibilities, but you will need to provide evidence that granting your request will be in the child's best interests. The courts are hesitant to modify a parenting arrangement that is already working for the child. With this in mind, you will probably need to work with your child's other parent first, if possible, to gradually increase your presence in the child's life.

Q. Where can I get help?

A. If you are an unmarried parent with concerns regarding your child, contact our office. Call 847-253-3100 for a free, confidential consultation today. Cosley Law Office serves individuals and families in Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Palatine, and all of Northwest Cook County.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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10.0Donald J Cosley
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Cosley Law Office
Arlington Office Park
1855 Rohlwing Road, Suite D
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
Rolling Meadows Law Office

Phone: 847-253-3100
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At the Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley, we represent clients in Illinois, including the cities of Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Elk Grove Village, Inverness, Wheeling, Long Grove and Mundelein, as well as Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County and throughout the Chicago, IL, metropolitan area.

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