Parentage (Paternity), Allocation of Parental Responsibilities & Parenting Time (Formerly Known as Custody & Visitation)

Parentage (Paternity), Allocation of Parental Responsibilities & Parenting Time (Formerly Known as Custody & Visitation)


In domestic relations court, parentage means determining who a child(ren)’s biological parent is. When a child is born to parents during their marriage, the child is automatically presumed to be a child of the marriage; therefore, married parents do not have to establish parentage. When a child is born to parents who are not married, a man is not considered the legal father of the child, even if the parents live together and/or plan to be married. As a result, a man does not become a legal father until paternity is established.  Parentage is established by:

  • The entry of an Administrative Paternity Order that is established and entered by Human Family Services’ Child Support Services Division; or
  • The entry of an Order of Paternity that is established and entered in a domestic relations court.

If there is a dispute regarding who the father of a child is, the court will order paternity/genetic testing to be completed, to determine paternity of the child.

When the parents are not married, a domestic relations court will not hear a case relating to parenting time, parental decision making, child support, or any child related matters until parentage is established. Therefore, establishing parentage is the first step of any parentage case.


Illinois courts no longer use the words ‘custody’ or ‘visitation’ to categorize a parent’s decisions-making rights or parenting time rights and/or obligations.  These terms are now collectively categorized as an Allocation of Parental Rights and Responsibilities, which is broken down into two categories:

  • Parenting Time (formerly referred to as visitation): designates which parent the child/ren will live with, and the amount of time that each parent spends with their child(ren).
  • Decision-Making (formerly referred to as custody): defines each parent’s legal rights and obligations regarding the care and upbringing of their child(ren). In Illinois, the courts are primarily concerned with four (4) areas of a child’s upbringing: education, healthcare, extracurricular activities, and religion.
    • A court can award one parent sole decision-making responsibilities, meaning one parent will make decisions for the aforementioned issues on his or her own, without consent or cooperation from their co-parent; or
    • A court can award both parents joint significant decision-making responsibilities, meaning the parents will have to discuss these decisions for the aforementioned issues with each other, and must agree before making significant decisions for their child(ren).

A parent’s decision-making rights and their parenting time is always subject to modification if a Judge rules that a substantial change in circumstances warrants a change.

Whether you are seeking to legally establish parentage, are feeling alienated from your child(ren) because of an uncooperative parent or have a dispute regarding your child(ren)’s standard or care, Adetola Law will safeguard and defend your parental rights and ensure your child(ren)’s best interests are accounted for.