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One state's approach to unmarried child custody issues

Texas readers may be surprised to learn how another state approaches custody disputes between unmarried parties. The matter has made headlines across the nation, and sparked debate concerning how unmarried child custody issues should be handled. After growing community pressure and multiple legal challenges, the state in question changed the manner in which these types of cases are heard.

Until recently, unmarried parents who were unable to reach an agreement on child custody matters had their cases heard in a courtroom that was specifically designated for unwed parents. That courtroom was located in the basement of a large urban court complex. In fact, the "courtroom" was actually converted storage space.

Illinois, the state in question, has a long history of treating unmarried parents differently than those who were legally wed. In fact, state law once referred to the offspring of unmarried parents as "bastards." Currently, statistics suggest that nearly half of the custody and child support cases in Cook County are brought by unmarried parties. Clearly, those parents deserve the same rights that are afforded to parents who are or were married.

Texas residents may be surprised to learn that another state continues to treat unmarried parents differently based solely on their marital status. However, it is important to understand that legal practices and procedures vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Staying informed on shifting trends in legislation is important, and can make a world of difference if an individual is ever faced with unmarried child custody issues.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "After legal challenges, Cook County's court for unwed parents quietly goes away", Steve Schmadeke, Sept. 18, 2017

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