Illinois Unfair Paternity Laws

The Men’s Rights series of articles focusing on state laws that are particularly harsh on men and fathers brings us to Illinois.

The paternity laws in Illinois are definitely skewed in favor of the mother. 

Even if a father signs a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, which is an acknowledgement that he is the legal father of the child, the acknowledgement form specifically states that it does not give the father child custody or visitation. It just gives him the right to ask the court for custody or visitation. 

However, by signing the acknowledgement, the father is acknowledging that he is responsible to provide financial support to the child, including child support and medical support.

Without a court order regarding custody or visitation, the father has no legal right to see the child, even though he has signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. 

Therefore, if the mother withholds the child from the father, he has little recourse until he is able to get a court order giving him visitation. 

Let’s look at an example of a common case. In this scenario, the mother and child lived with the father for the first year and a half of the child’s life. The mother then left with the child and refused to tell the father where she was. 

Yet the Illinois Child Abduction Statute does not provide recourse to the father. It provides that “when the parties have never been married to each other, the mother has legal custody of the child unless a valid court order states otherwise.” (720 ILCS 5/10‑5)

Similarly, the Illinois Paternity Statute provides that “if the parentage judgment contains no such provisions [regarding custody], custody shall be presumed to be with the mother.” (750 ILCS 45/14)

The current state of the parentage laws requires the father to seek court action to provide him with enforceable visitation rights with his child, whereas the mother is automatically given rights regarding custody and visitation.

Until a court order is entered regarding custody and visitation, the father has no legal right to visitation with the child. This puts the mother in a position to deny visitation to the father, until he is able to obtain a court order awarding him visitation. 

The divorce lawyers for men at Cordell & Cordell handle many domestic litigation issues, including paternity. Contact the Cordell and Cordell office nearest you or learn more information about paternity laws on

By Erin Brockhoff
Mens Divorce Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Men's Rights Editor

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