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Family Law: Establishing Paternity Rights in Illinois

Posted on in Paternity

DuPage County family law attorney, paternity rights in IllinoisPaternity refers to the relationship a child shares with his or her father. The process of establishing paternity in Illinois is fairly straight forward. However, sometimes, it can be more difficult than you can imagine. Establishing paternity is very important because it will impact decisions related to child custody, visitation and child support. 

Under the Illinois Parentage Act, there are only a few situations in which the legal father of a child is determined. If the parents were married when the child was born or conceived during the marriage, the husband will be presumed to be the father of the child. Also, if the husband married the mother after the child was born and signed the child’s birth certificate after birth, then the individual who signed the birth certificate will be considered the legal father. Likewise, if the individual signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (“VAP”) form, then this individual will be considered the legal father. Finally, if some or none of the above applies, the Department of Health and Family Services (“HFS”) or an Illinois court can issue an order establishing paternity. 

The Many Ways to Establish Paternity

Paternity affects the legal relationship a father has with his child. However, it is important to note that only a select few can petition the court to establish paternity and they include:

  • The natural mother;
  • An individual who believes he is the father; or
  • The child.

As you can see from above, there are three ways to establish paternity:

  • The VAP form is the simplest way of establishing paternity and these forms are available in the hospital at the time of your child’s birth. Both parents need to complete, sign, and have it witnessed. Yet if both parents are unsure who the father is, the VAP should not be signed;
  • The HFS can become involved in the process, which investigates and gathers information from the mother and alleged father, and may even order DNA testing if the alleged father is not cooperative. HFS can issue an administrative order declaring the uncooperative alleged father the legal father by default; and
  • The court can hear evidence from HFS through the Attorney General, or the mother can petition the court for the establishment of paternity. The court can also order DNA testing, and in most cases will if fatherhood is challenged.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

It is important to establish paternity because it affects the father-child relationship, protects parents rights, enables access to family medical information, and secures benefits for the child such as medical and financial support, and even Social Security and inheritance rights. 

Contact a Parentage Attorney

Depending on the circumstances of your case, the establishing paternity can be a short or long and arduous process. In order for you to protect your parental rights and the rights of your child, it is essential that you contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney who understands the paternity process and knows how to properly pursue a paternity action.

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