Establishing Legal Paternity in Illinois

The concept of paternity means establishing the legal father for a child. Until legal paternity is finalized, the father has no rights to the child, and the child cannot receive support from the father. There are many reasons why it is important to establish paternity for a child, and Illinois law provides multiple ways for that process to take place.

Benefits of Paternity

Discerning paternity has benefits for all parties involved. For the father, it establishes rights for visitation and custody. For the child, support can be given both financially and emotionally. Additional benefits of paternity include:

  • Adding the father’s name to the birth certificate;
  • Protecting the parents’ rights;
  • Providing family medical history and records;
  • Securing benefits for the child like Social Security, veterans’ benefits, or life insurance benefits;
  • Providing inheritance rights to the child; and
  • Fostering the father/child bond.

Presuming Paternity

Paternity is presumed in Illinois if the mother was married at the time of conception or birth. The husband at the time of conception or marriage is legally presumed to be the father, and this can only be changed upon a proper showing of evidence to the court.

If the parents were not married when the child was born or conceived, the father is then known as the “alleged father.” The alleged father is not the legal father of the child, however, and will not be considered so unless paternity is established.

Ways to Establish Paternity

If the mother is unmarried at the time of conception or birth, Illinois law provides for multiple ways for paternity to be established. Under the Illinois Parentage Act, paternity can be established using the following methods:

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity

If both parents agree on who is the father of the child, they can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form. This form must be signed and dated by both parents in order for legal paternity to be established.

Administrative Paternity Order

This order is entered by the State of Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), and it will establish paternity through either an administrative or court process. Using the administrative process, HFS will conduct an interview with the mother about the paternity of the child and then speak separately with the alleged father about either voluntarily establishing paternity or submitting to genetic testing.

Order of Paternity

A family law court can also enter an order of paternity. Both parents attend court, and usually genetic testing is ordered by the judge. If the alleged father is proven to be biological father of the child, the judge will place the order. In addition, if the alleged father does not show up for the court appearance, the judge can order him the father by default.

Call an Illinois Family Law Attorney

If you are interested in establishing legal paternity for your child, or have other family law questions in DuPage County, Kane County, Will County, or the western Chicago suburbs, let the experienced Illinois family law attorneys at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. help. Call the office or contact us today for a consultation of your case.