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When Is it Necessary to Legally Establish or Dispute Paternity?

 Posted on January 07, 2021 in Paternity

Naperville IL paternity attorneyFor many parents, the identity of a child’s father is not in question. In fact, under Illinois law, a mother’s spouse is presumed to be her child’s legal parent, as long as the child was born during the couple’s marriage or within 300 days after the couple was separated, got divorced, or one partner died. However, this means that if a child is born while a couple is unmarried, or if a situation does not meet the criteria described above, paternity will need to be established to ensure that the father will be recognized as the child’s legal parent. Paternity may also need to be addressed if the identity of a child’s father is in doubt or is known to be someone other than the mother’s spouse.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

The simplest and most common way of establishing paternity is for both parents to fill out and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form, which can be done at any time after their child is born. This form can be provided by a hospital, and it is also available on the website of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, at a local county clerk’s office, and other sources. By filling out this form, the parents will both recognize that a man is the child’s father. This will allow him to be listed on the child’s birth certificate, and he will have full parental rights regarding the child.

Paternity can also be voluntarily acknowledged if the biological father is a person other than the child’s presumed parent. In these cases, the presumed father may submit a Denial of Parentage form, and the biological parents may submit a VAP. The mother, the presumed father, or the child may also submit a petition in court to declare the nonexistence of the parent-child relationship. This type of legal action must be initiated within two years after the petitioner knew or should have known the facts of the case. For example, a presumed father must file this type of petition within two years after he first discovers that he is not a child’s biological father.

If the identity of a child’s father is uncertain or in dispute, there are typically two paths that are followed to establish paternity. The Child Support Services division of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services may conduct an administrative process, interviewing both parents and performing DNA testing, and an Administrative Paternity Order may be issued naming a man as the child’s father. The mother, the presumed father, or the child may also file a petition to establish paternity in court, and in these cases, DNA testing will usually be ordered. If a genetic test shows that a man is a child’s father with 99.9% certainty, a court order will be issued naming him as the child’s legal father.

Contact Our DuPage County Paternity Lawyers

Establishing paternity will ensure that a father and child can maintain a relationship, no matter whether the parents are married, unmarried, separated, or divorced. A legal father can pursue the rights to share in the allocation of parental responsibilities and have reasonable amounts of parenting time with the child. The child will also benefit by receiving financial support, having access to their father’s family medical history, and being able to receive Social Security or veteran’s benefits in the father’s name.

Calabrese Associates, P.C. can help you take the right steps to establish paternity for your child. Contact our Naperville family law attorneys by calling our office at 630-393-3111.



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