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DuPage County child custody lawyerHandling issues of child custody is tricky under the best of circumstances, but unmarried parents can present additional challenges. In the state of Illinois, if you are not married to the other parent of your child, then you must establish paternity if you are a father hoping to get parental rights for a child. A knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate this difficult process. 

Does Signing the Birth Certificate of Your Child Establish Paternity?

If a couple is married and has a baby, the man is assumed to be the child’s legal father. If a couple is unmarried, however, both parents must complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form. If one parent cannot or will not sign the VAP, then it will be necessary to try to establish paternity through a court order or through an administrative order from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). 

Who Has Legal Custody of a Child in Illinois?

Creating a parenting plan that includes parental responsibilities (formerly known as custody) and parenting time (formerly known as visitation) can only be done after establishing paternity. One or both parents will need to submit a parenting plan to the family court system to have it approved by a judge and made enforceable in the future. 


Naperville, IL child custody lawyerThere are times when two parents cannot work together to make decisions that are in the best interests of their children in a custody case. In other cases, a child may have special needs that require additional involvement in the decision making process from someone whose job it is to advocate for and represent their interests. A court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the child. Essentially, they act as a lawyer for the child throughout the custody process.

The Guardian’s Role Is to Make Recommendations to the Court

A judge can appoint a guardian ad litem in a custody case after one parent has filed a motion in court or because the judge has concerns about the getting facts of the case correct. The term “guardian” is somewhat misleading, however. The guardian ad litem does not have any legal authority over the child; only the court retains the authority to make decisions about the child when necessary. 

Instead, a guardian ad litem will assist the court in reaching decisions about the minor child. They usually speak to both of the parents about a situation to learn more about the parents, their home environment, the child, and the child’s needs. The guardian then makes a recommendation to the court. In essence, the court is delegating some of its fact-finding to the guardian. 


Naperville divorce lawyerDivorce is a difficult and emotional process for all parties involved, particularly for parents who are trying to navigate the process while ensuring the well-being of their children. Parents who want to share responsibility for their children will describe the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities in their parenting plan. Divorcing parents may also need to address child support. The court typically determines child support based on a statutory formula, but courts deviate from the formula under certain circumstances.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody and visitation are two of the most important and difficult issues that parents face during divorce. In Illinois, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child, which includes:

  • Consideration of the child's physical and emotional needs


naperville divorce lawyerOne of the most complicated aspects of a divorce is deciding what is best for your children. If you and your spouse have had children together, it can further convolute an already confusing and stressful event. Learning how to navigate custody, deciding upon a fair parenting plan, and understanding child support can be very overwhelming for an individual. Fortunately, the experienced professionals at Hendrix Law firm can help guide you through the process and provide peace of mind.  

How are Custody and Child Support Determined?

After a divorce, the custody of the children will be decided based on a number of factors.  Every case is unique, but many typical cases are based on similar factors including:

  • Education and possible relocation for the children


naperville child custody lawyerAlthough most divorced parents in Illinois are eager to spend more time with their kids, a few parents are flaky or disinterested. While on the surface, this may seem like a great way for the other parent to get more time with the kids, in reality, it leads to frustrated plans and - even worse - disappointed children. If you are in this situation, you already know how hard it can be to deal with an ex who does not show up for his or her parenting time. The good news is that there are options for taking action. 

What is Parenting Time? 

Parenting time, formerly known as visitation in Illinois, is the schedule that describes each parent’s allotted time with their child. Usually, parenting time kicks in once a parenting plan has been established after a divorce, but parents who have never been married can create a court-ordered parenting plan as well. 

Illinois courts begin with the presumption that both parents are fit to spend time with their child, and absent evidence proving otherwise, will work hard to ensure both parents get parenting time. A great parenting plan allows both parents to maintain a warm relationship with their child while also having the structure and predictability to allow each parent to carry out their lives. 

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