Fathers’ rights have come a long way over the years, but many men in Illinois and the rest of the United States would argue that they are still fighting an uphill battle in child custody proceedings.
Unmarried fathers, especially, may feel like the laws are stacked against them. That’s why it’s important for unmarried fathers in Illinois to register with the state’s putative father registry as soon as their child is born.
The registry provides the father with the legal standing to ask the court for child custody or visitation rights, or challenge an adoption. In the case of an adoption, Illinois law requires that the father who is named on the registry must be contacted before the adoption can legally take place.
However, if the father is never made aware of the child’s birth, he will not know to register and his parental rights will not be protected.
This is the situation that arose in a recent adoption case that was heard by the North Carolina Supreme Court. Ultimately, the state’s highest court ruled that a man could not challenge the adoption of the child he fathered because he had not established parental rights.
The court held that the man had not shown any interest that his ex-girlfriend could become pregnant, and if he had been interested in finding out about the pregnancy he easily could have.
Although the case didn’t take place in Illinois, it serves as a reminder of the unsympathetic approach the courts sometimes take to unmarried fathers in paternity and adoption cases.
For that reason, it’s extremely important for unmarried fathers to have an experienced lawyer on their side when seeking custody or visitation rights, or attempting to fight an adoption.
Source: News & Record, “Court doesn’t upset adoption for biological father,” Doug Clark, June 12, 2014