Sexually Active Teenagers Lose Freedom


As an unmarried young woman, have you ever given thought to having a child and then losing your freedom to leave Illinois? This family law topic comes to mind after I reviewed the recent Illinois Supreme Court case of Fisher vs. Waldrop. The Fisher case involved a young unmarried woman who had given birth to a child out of wedlock with her boyfriend. When the child was two years old, the relationship ended. The mother subsequently married a man who obtained employment in Indiana, so the mother wanted to leave with her child to the State of Indiana with her new husband. Seems simple. Do you think she was able to do so? Before answering this question, it is important for young women who contemplate becoming sexually active to give serious consideration to the potential restrictions placed on them if they become pregnant, and subsequently wish to leave the State of Illinois with their newborn child. Of course, there are no restrictions placed on the father of the newborn baby prohibiting the father from leaving the State of Illinois, so why is it fair that the Illinois Legislature has placed restrictions on an unmarried woman seeking to leave the State of Illinois with her newborn child?

Under Illinois law, it has always been the rule that a parent who ends up with custody of his or her children at the conclusion of divorce must first seek additional permission from the court before removing his or her children to another State. Several factors must be established before a custodial parent is given permission to remove his or her children from the State of Illinois, such as whether the move to another State will improve the quality of life of the children, the motivations behind the custodial parent’s desire to move to another state, and also whether or not the parent left behind in Illinois would still have a reasonable parenting time schedule with the children after the move out of State?

This Removal law was extended to apply to unmarried mothers on July 10, 2003; however, the validity of certain provisions in this statute was not addressed by the Illinois Supreme Court until April 20, 2006.

The concern that unmarried women (which generally includes teenagers) should have is that if you decide to become sexually active and eventually become pregnant, you may not be able to leave the State of Illinois with your child without permission from the court, or permission from the child’s father. Of course, the unmarried mother could always turn over her child to the child’s father; however, this may well not be a realistic option for many first-time mothers.

Today, should an unmarried mother wish to leave the State of Illinois with her child, she must follow the same guidelines, rules, and laws as divorced mothers seeking permission to remove children from the State of Illinois. This process will include hiring attorneys and gathering substantial evidence to support a theory that it would be in the best interests of the minor child to be permitted to go with her mother to another State. Oh yes, the answer to the question posed above is, we don’t know, because, for technical reasons not discussed in this article, the Illinois Supreme Court has returned the matter back to the trial court for further hearings on the mother’s request to move to Indiana with her new husband. Stay tuned . . .

Hopefully, this article gives unmarried mothers (including teenagers) a brief education on Illinois Parentage Law, but also further discourages teenagers from becoming sexually active without taking proper precautions.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael P. Doman, Ltd. today!

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