The Paternity Trial Court made a finding that Evan was the father of the child.  Evan’s name was listed on the child’s birth certificate.    The mother and father were 18 at the time of the child’s birth. They were never married. They each lived with their own parents. The Court also ordered that the mother and father would have joint custody, visitation for father, and child support from father.  Mother appealed a number of the court’s rulings.

Both parents testified that they often worked together to resolve problems.  Issues included visitation, child care, and other issues.  So, the Appellate Court found that they could cooperate sufficiently to permit joint parenting.

The Trial Court had found that it would be in the child’s best interest to develop a strong bond with his father. Substantial visitation for father would be best.   This would include a gradual introduction of overnight visits starting at age 15 months.

The Trial Court did make a mistake.  It had ordered that the child’s last name should be changed from her surname to father’s surname.   It also ruled that mother’s surname would be the child’s middle name.

The modern law of parentage grants an unmarried father substantial rights to his child’s upbringing and company.   But, it does not have any preference that a child of unmarried parents should bear the father’s name.   The father failed to present any clear and convincing evidence that the name change was necessary to serve the child’s best interests.

The Trial Court also made a mistake in setting child support at $40 per week.  This was what father had been paying to mother by their agreement.  The court did not ask the parties to provide their financial affidavits.   Child support is to be set at statutory guidelines.   If it is less than the guideline amount, the court must provide an explanation.

In re Oliver B., 2016 IL App (2d) 151136 No. 2-15-1136.