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Strategic Divorce

How is Paternity Established in Illinois?

  • By: Michelle Pakzad
  • Published: March 1, 2022

Becoming a mother can be an emotionally stressful life change, especially if a child is born out of wedlock. In this case, it is extremely important to legally safeguard your rights by establishing a paternity claim as quickly as possible.

In most instances, establishing the paternity of a child usually falls to the woman. Moreover, once a paternity case moves forward and the identity of the father is established, a nurturing relationship can hopefully begin.

The “legal definition” of fatherhood in Illinois

Establishing fatherhood in the state of Illinois does not require a paternity test. The mother must simply be legally married to or in a civil union with the presumed father within 300 days of the birth.

However, the parents must be legally married or in a civil union when the child was born in order for the father’s name to be included on the child’s birth certificate.

This legal prevision, regardless of whether the couple lives together or are planning to be married, prohibits the presumed father from legally claiming fatherhood until actual paternity is established.

Benefits in establishing paternity:

Along with beginning the lifelong emotional bonds that exist between a father and child, establishing paternity provides numerous legal rights that will last a lifetime, including:

  1. Child Support
  2. Government Befits, such as Social Security from a disabled or deceased parent
  3. Healthcare and life insurance benefits

Equally important yet seldom considered by couples when establishing paternity is the child’s ability to access their father’s health records and family history, which can provide a valuable resource for managing and/or maintaining good health throughout life.

Three ways to establish paternity in Illinois:

The state of Illinois has established three ways to legally establish paternity. Each method, depending on circumstances, will achieve the desired outcome:

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, also known as VAP. This is by far the easiest and simplest way to establish paternity. The parents can request a VAP form from hospital admittance personal, where they then fill out the information along with the infant’s birth certificate. The form must be completed before a witness and filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
  2. Paternity Order. As the name suggests, this petition is usually entered when the birth mother is seeking child support in the form of payments from the child’s father. Once the father voluntarily agrees to take a paternity test, and it is established that he is indeed the father of the child, his parental status is acknowledged and entered into the state’s child support services system.
  3. Court Order. This is by far the most contested way to establish paternity, used when someone either refuses to cooperate or is not available. When this occurs, a court order can be obtained in response to a mother’s complaint. However, a petition must first be filed with your local court, which will then consider the evidence before establishing paternity. The evidence can include DNA testing, or the presence of the father’s name on the birth certificate.

DNA Testing

DNA testing is the most accurate method for determining the biological father of a child. This procedure simply requires a technician to swab the inside of an individual’s cheek.

For more information on how we can best serve you please contact the law firm of Strategic Divorce at 847-234-4445 for a free consultation

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