When Should an Unmarried Couple Head To Court To Deal With Parenting Issues?

Even though more and more children are born outside of marriage, the laws of Illinois continue to favor parents who are married. While there is often little reason to run to the courthouse when a couple is in a stable, committed relationship, there may be reasons that a couple should consider heading to court.

Has Parentage Been Established?

Paternity, now referred to as parentage, is the legal process for establishing someone as the father of a child. If the father voluntarily signed the birth certificate, parentage has already been established. However, if that is not the case, parentage is still an issue.

A father will want to make sure parentage is legally settled so that he can enforce his parenting rights. He has a right to reasonable parenting time, and in many cases he will want to petition the court to allocate parental responsibilities, previously known as custody.

A mother will want parentage established so she can collect child support. Until parentage has been established, the state cannot collect child support or enforce any child support obligations.

Parentage can be established through the court system, or in some circumstances through an administrative process.

How is the Relationship?

If a couple is not living together but are friendly with each other, it may not appear like there is any reason to go to court. Still, as a child grows older, conflicts are more likely to crop up between the parents, especially if there is no formal parenting time arrangement.

Once either parent enters into another serious relationship, it can also often spark disputes over what is best for the child. If a couple is not living together, it is a good idea to obtain a formal court order to deal with parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities. If the couple is on friendly terms, it can be easy to agree to a plan and the entire process will be relatively simple.

Obtaining a court order while both sides get along and are in agreement will save time and money if situations become sour down the road. It will also ensure that the child has the benefit of a stable schedule and a strong relationship with both parents.

If you have questions about paternity, parental responsibilities, or parenting time, then you need to speak with an experienced DuPage County family law lawyer right away. Call Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. today at 630-665-7676 to schedule a consultation. Make sure you understand the best way to protect your rights and your child.