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Disproving Paternity Does Not Always Terminate Parental ObligationsIllinois presumes that the husband is the legal father to any child conceived or born during the marriage. The legal father has a right to parental responsibilities and an obligation to contribute to child support in the event of a divorce. The presumed father can declare the non-existence of a parent-child relationship if he learns that he is not the biological father. If the court grants the action, the man can ask to terminate his legal obligations to the child. However, terminating your parental responsibilities takes more than claiming that the child is not yours.

Time Limit

You must file a petition to terminate your paternity within two years of learning that you may not be the father. The two-year time limit can start at any point, as long as you had no reason to doubt your paternity before learning the relevant facts. For instance, an Illinois court recently approved a man’s petition to terminate his parental obligations when his former wife told him that he was not the father of their 12-year-old daughter. A DNA test proved this to be true, and, after hearing testimony, the court believed that the man had not previously known that he was not the father.

DNA Testing

A genetic test is the surest way to determine whether you are the biological father of a child. Illinois law instructs courts to grant DNA testing when either parent or child requests it. However, the court has the right to deny a DNA test if it believes that it is against the best interest of the child for reasons such as:

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Posted on in Paternity

Parental Rights Without MarriageYou do not need to plan on marriage in order for family law to be useful. Cohabiting couples share their lives in many of the same ways as those who marry. This includes having children, which will tie the two people together even if they separate. A co-parent who never married is responsible for child support payments if the couple lives apart. However, there are benefits to being married parents that unmarried parents do not automatically receive. Unmarried couples must proactively use family law to gain equal rights as parents.

Establishing Parentage

When a married woman has a child, her husband is assumed to be the father. A biological father who is not married to the mother must identify himself as the father in order to have paternal rights. The father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form immediately after the child’s birth. In some situations, only one person is the biological parent. The other partner can apply for adoption to become a legal parent. Establishing parentage grants several rights regarding the child, including:

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Posted on in Paternity

Contesting Your Paternity of a ChildEstablishing paternity after a child is born is important for all parties involved. The father gains the allocation of parental responsibilities. If the parents are not together, the mother can collect child support from the father. The child knows who his or her father is and can decide whether to pursue a relationship later in life. The father is most often the mother’s current or most recent romantic partner, but there are exceptions. A presumed father who believes he is not the biological father must make a choice: 

  • If no one else claims paternity, he can accept responsibility as the child’s legal father; or
  • He can deny his paternity, which may require going to court.

Unmarried Men

If your current or former girlfriend has a child out of wedlock, you can legally establish yourself as the father by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. However, you should wait on signing the document if you have a reasonable doubt that you are the father. Once you have signed a VAP, you have 60 days to cancel it. After that, a court will rescind your paternity only if you can prove you signed the document under fraudulent circumstances or duress. If you refuse to sign a VAP, the mother may take you to court to establish paternity. The court will determine whether you are the father and what parental responsibilities and obligations to assign to you.

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