Friday, August 16, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court puts burden on unmarried fathers to prove visitation is in the child’s best interest

Illinois Supreme Court puts burden on unmarried fathers to prove visitation is in their child’s best interest

Non-custodial parents (mostly fathers) seeking visitation in paternity cases do not have the same rights as parents in divorce cases. The Illinois Supreme Court clarified this issue that has been disputed between the various appellate districts for quite some time.

  • In divorce cases the preference is on the side of awarding visitation to non-custodial parents (mostly dads) and it is up to the custodial parent to show that giving him visitation presents a serous endangerment to the child.
  • In paternity cases the preferences is now on the side of the custodial parent and it is up to the non-custodial parent (dad) to show that having visitation is in the child’s best interest.

At first blush, it may not seem a huge issue but it is. To go into a case with the deck stacked against you can really make things hard for non-custodial parents to get visitation rights – particularly where that parent has been absent from the child’s life.

To read the case in its entirety: The Parentage of J.W