Establishing Paternity in Illinois

Father and Son at the Park

In today's society, establishing paternity is not always a simple process. There are now many different factors that must be considered when a child is born, which can affect how paternity is determined. The following is a list of situations that could affect the child's paternity.

The Mother and Father are Married

This is the easiest scenario for parents of a child. Under Illinois Law, when a child is born to a married mother, the mother's husband is automatically considered the child's father.

The Husband is Not the Child's Biological Father

Sometimes a mother marries during the pregnancy to a person other than the child's father, or perhaps the mother got pregnant during a marriage with a different man than her husband. In these situations, the husband may not always want to be named the legal father of the child. If the husband does not wish to be named the father, the husband needs to request a Denial of Paternity Form when the child is born. The husband, mother, and biological father must all sign the form. If one of the parties refuses to sign the form or it is unknown who the biological father is, the parties should contact the Department of Healthcare and Family Services' Child Support Services and request a DNA test.

The Mother and Father are Not Married

When the mother and father are not married, the father's name does not appear on the birth certificate with just the naming of the father by the mother. Instead, the father is considered an “alleged father” until paternity can be established, which is done by:

  • Both parents signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. This can happen if both parents agree on the paternity and voluntarily sign the form;
  • If both parents do not agree to sign the form, the mother can contact the State of Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services' Child Support Services for the entry of an Administrative Paternity Order; or
  • The court can enter a Paternity Order.

If the parties choose to contact the Department of Healthcare, the department will interview the mother and request the name of the father. The department will then attempt to interview the father by serving the father notice to attend the interview. If the father attends the interview, the department will ask the father to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. If the father refuses, then a DNA test will be requested. If the father does not attend the interview, the department can declare the alleged father the father by default.

The mother's other option is to file for paternity through the court. If this happens, the court will order a paternity test and then enter an Order of Paternity if the DNA test is positive.

Why Establish Paternity

For some, it may not be clear why establishing paternity is such an important issue. Ultimately though, paternity can have a large impact for a variety of reasons. The child has a right to know his/her father, to receive support from his/her father, to receive medical insurance from the father, to receive veterans' benefits from the father, to receive Social Security benefits from the father, to receive inheritances from the father, and to know the medical history of the father. Additionally, the father has legal rights to know his child and to have his name on the child's birth certificate. Lastly, the mother has the right to request child support from the father as well as payment to cover medical expenses for the child.

Establishing paternity can be complicated in today's society. If you are in the position where you need to establish paternity, either as the mother or the father of a child, our experienced Naperville family law attorneys can answer any questions you may have. Please contact us today for a consultation.

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