Questions of paternity are some of the most emotionally complicated questions handled by our judicial system. Paternity cases can involve mistrust, betrayal and heartbreak. It can be particularly difficult where a parent learns, after years of parenting, that he is not a child's genetic parent.
We understand that these cases can be very delicate and that every situation is different as each person who finds himself in this position has different priorities and needs, as do the child or children involved. Despite the sensitive nature of this area of law, there are various strict time limits you need to understand if you are considering contesting paternity, particularly in a divorce proceeding.
Illinois Parentage Act Statute of Limitations
The law that governs paternity in Illinois is called the Illinois Parentage Act. This law contains what is called a “statute of limitations.” A statute of limitations is a law that creates a deadline by which any claims under a law must be filed. These statutes of limitations come up in all areas of law. They are often discussed in the criminal context because, in order to make sure a defendant has a chance at a fair trial, these laws can prevent prosecutors from bringing some types of charges decades after a crime was alleged to have been committed.
Often, statutes of limitations are not as important in family law since a divorce can happen at any time in a marriage and child custody issues are so focused on the question of what is in the best interests of the child. But when it comes to challenging paternity the statute of limitations is very important.
How This Statute of Limitations Applies in the Case of a Marriage
Under the Illinois Parentage Act a man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if the man is married to the child's natural mother (or they have been married to each other) and the child is born or conceived during the marriage. The child, the natural mother, or the presumed father can challenge this presumption.
Illinois law provides that this challenge must be brought within two years of the petitioner's obtaining knowledge of relevant facts relating to the paternity question. A court can infer that such knowledge exists at the point where a man has serious doubts as to whether he is the father. What this means is that if you care currently having such doubts as to paternity, the clock on that two years may already be running. This is true even if you have not pursued a DNA test to determine genetic parentage.
Call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C.
If you have questions about the paternity of a child, please seek out the assistance of an experienced Illinois paternity attorney as soon as possible. Call us today at Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C., an Illinois family law practice that is ready and willing to help. Our phone number is 630-665-7676.