Paternity disputes have long-term repercussions for the parents and the children. Pursuant to the Illinois Parentage Act, there are four types of presumption of paternity. Two arise from marriage and two arise from the voluntarily acknowledgment of the parents. There are cases, however, when Illinois imposes paternal duties on parents even if paternity has not been established.
Take the case of Heather and Bradley, for example. Heather gave birth to a son in 2001 and claimed that Bradley was the father. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (“Department”) ordered Bradley to appear to an interview to determine paternity. Bradley did not appear and the Department entered an order finding that Bradley was the father. Following Bradley’s objection, the Department scheduled a DNA test to determine paternity. Bradley signed a form agreeing to be bound by the results of the genetic testing. Unfortunately, Bradley did not show up for the DNA test either and began paying child support instead.
A few years later, Bradley asked for a DNA test to determine paternity and Heather agreed. The test revealed that there was a ZERO chance that Bradley was the father. Right after the test, Bradley filed an action to declare the existence of non-paternity pursuant to section 7(b-5) of the Illinois Parentage Act. Bradley argued that he and Heather were never married and he never signed any documents acknowledging paternity. The lower court dismissed Bradley’s appeal, holding that he had to fulfill the parental obligations. Bradley appealed again.
The appellate court found that when Bradley agreed to be bound by the results of the DNA test, he created a presumption of paternity. Moreover, under Illinois law, only a showing of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact may overturn paternity presumptions, which Bradley could not prove. Thus, Bradley had to continue paying child support.
If you are facing a paternity suit or if you just want to know what your options, consider consulting an Illinois family law attorney.