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Imagine the following situation: You’ve been happily married for five years, and then you have a baby. At first, your husband was happy and excited to have your child, but after the baby was born everything changed. Your spouse refused to connect with your baby or help with his or her care. In fact, a couple months after the baby’s birth, he abandoned you and your family and you haven’t seen him since, nor received any financial help from him.

In situations of child abandonment, a parent can move forward with a few different options depending on the circumstances of the birth and abandonment:

  • Claim sole custody rights: Sometimes mothers who are left single by the other parent would rather raise their child unfettered by the wants and parental demands of the other individual. In these situations — if the mother was unmarried — he or she might claim sole custody of her child and allow the abandoning father to go his separate way.
  • Demand child support: Whether the mother was legally married to the father or not, she will have the legal right to collect child support from the abandoning father, and she can pursue that child support in court if necessary.
  • Strip the father of his parental rights if married: If the woman is married, the father will automatically have parental rights. In the case of abandonment and extreme disinterest, however, a court may agree to take the father’s parental rights away.

Regardless of what kind of parenting dilemma you’re facing as a single mother, the Illinois family law system is there to help. Learn what your legal rights and options are as a solo mom, and protect them in court if necessary.