Paternity is a legal concept that refers to the identity of a child’s biological father, and there are different reasons why various individuals would want to make parentage official under Illinois law.
- The child’s mother may want to establish paternity to file for child support, as there must be an official record before a court can enter such an order;
- A man who contests that he is the biological father may want an official determination of parentage because he would not be legally obligated to pay child support; or,
- In a situation that is becoming more common, the child’s biological father wants to be part of the child’s life and exercise his rights as a parent.
Regardless of which reason may apply in your case, Illinois law does provide certain requirements for establishing parentage in different situations. You should discuss your circumstances with a dedicated Chicago paternity attorney, but it may be useful to review a summary of the three ways to prove parentage in Illinois.
Legal Presumption for Married Couples
When a child is born to individuals who are married at the time of birth, Illinois law presumes that these people are the parents of that child. Two people being involved in a civil union or similar legal relationship would also give rise to this legal presumption. For purposes of parentage, any child born within 300 days after the termination of a qualifying relationship is also considered to be a product of the two co-parents; this rule applies regardless of whether the marriage, civil union, or similar relationship ends due to death of one person, divorce, or legal separation.
As a legal presumption, paternity can be rebutted by presenting evidence that refutes parentage. For instance, if the mother had an extramarital relationship, her partner at the time and the purported father could both contest paternity.
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP)
If a child’s parents are not married at the time of birth but agree on the identity of the father, both may execute a VAP to establish parentage. This form is available online, through county clerks’ offices, public health departments, and other sources. Both parents must sign the form willingly, before a witness who is not the mother or father of the child. Note that a VAP can be executed before the child is even born.
When neither of the above options applies, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in court to establish paternity. A mother or individual who believes he is the father both has the standing to file a paternity action. There are various methods of proving parentage, but DNA evidence is the most critical in this type of case. DNA evidence, on its own, is not proof of paternity: You must obtain a Court Order of Paternity to establish your rights as a father or mother.
Consult With a Chicago Family Law Attorney About Paternity
If you have questions about establishing paternity under any of these methods, a knowledgeable family law attorney in Chicago can provide answers. Please contact Arami Law to schedule a consultation where we can discuss the details of your case.