Or, the second choice and more blunt title:
File Your Case or Lose Your Kid(s) Forever.
This article is specifically intended for fathers who are not married to the mothers of their child/children because YOU ARE AT RISK! You face the very real possibility that someday mom’s going to get upset and take-off with your kids halfway across the county or the world. And she (plus your kids) might NEVER COME BACK! I’ve seen it happen from afar and first-hand just recently.
So here’s the tale of 2 fathers…
Father #1. Father #1 has a 6-year-old daughter with Mother. Father #1 is the majority parent for his daughter and has registered her in school, handles all medical matters for her, and the daughter spends 95% of her time living with Father #1. Mother is involved only sporadically in her daughter’s life and sees her 1 weekend per month. Father #1 is listed as the daughter’s father on her birth certificate. Therefore, Father #1 is the legal father (as well as the biological father) of his daughter. On Thanksgiving Day Father #1 allows the Mother to have the daughter for a few days until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. But, when Father #1 goes to pick-up his daughter on Sunday he learns that the Mother has improperly taken the daughter to Alabama and the Mother says she and the daughter are not coming back.
Because Father #1 is the legal father of his daughter (listed as father on her birth certificate) we are able to get into court immediately and have Father #1 awarded temporary custody of his daughter and the Mother is ordered to return the daughter to Father #1. Father #1 goes down to Alabama immediately and with the help of law enforcement regains possession of his daughter within a couple days. Subsequently, Father #1 is granted custody of his daughter for at least the next 10 months and the Mother is barred from any visitation with her daughter.
Father #2. Read carefully because Father #2 isn’t much different than Father #1. Father #2 has an 11-year-old daughter with Mother. Father #2 is the majority parent for his daughter and has registered her in school, handles all medical matters for her, and the daughter spends 80% of her time living with Father #2. Mother is only involved sporadically in her daughter’s life and sees her 1-2 weekends per month. Father #2 is not listed as the daughter’s father on her birth certificate. Therefore, Father #2 is not the legal father of his daughter (although he is the biological father). On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day, unbeknownst to Father #2, Mother shows-up at the daughter’s school, takes daughter home, and has her transferred to a new school in Alabama. Several days later Father #2 learns what has occurred and realizes that his daughter is in Alabama and very upset to be away from her home.
Because Father #2 is NOT the legal father of his daughter we can’t go to court and he can’t get custody of his daughter. Father #2 cannot retrieve his daughter in Alabama. As a legal matter he’s no more the father than I am. So he’s got an upset, unhappy and afraid 11-year-old daughter in Alabama who he may never see again. I hope that’s not true and as long as the mother stays put in one place and Father #2 knows where the mother is, then he’ll likely be able to eventually re-gain some parental rights to his daughter if not full custody. But it will take several months. But if the Mother/daughter make themselves hard to find, particularly outside the U.S., then Father #2 likely won’t see his daughter again.
Don’t Let this Be You
The above is based on a true story. It’s pretty stark and dramatic…and thankfully fairly rare. But there’s a similar story that happens tens if not hundreds of times every weekend in Chicago and that’s the scenario where good fathers have their parenting time and relationships with kids “controlled” by the whims of the mother. Mom won’t let you see your son unless you pay her $500. Mom won’t let you see your son because she’s got a new boyfriend who doesn’t like you. Mom doesn’t allow you to attend your son’s sporting events and won’t tell you the schedule and you can’t just get it from the school because you’re not your son’s legal father.
Father #1 above was the legal father of his daughter and thus could control the situation. He signed-off on his daughter’s birth certificate when she was born. A biological father can also become a legal father by filing a parentage/paternity case in court. Those are the only 2 options.
The Chicago Family Law Group, LLC can help you file your case! We can help you help your kids!