There are many different reasons that a party might want to establish paternity, from a parent who is seeking to be allocated parental responsibilities or a parent seeking child support, to a child who wants to know more about his or her health history or who may be entitled to certain benefits through the parent. Any of these parties may seek to establish paternity in situations in which there is an alleged father, which the Illinois Parentage Act defines as a man who claims he is, or who someone else claims to be, the biological father of a child, but whose paternity has not been legally established. The law makes clear that an alleged father does not include a presumed parent or acknowledged father, and it does not include a person whose parental rights have been legally terminated.
Why is it important to establish paternity? The following are some of the major reasons that one or more parties may file a petition to establish paternity in the Chicago area.
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), parents are not awarded legal or physical child custody. Rather, they are allocated parental responsibilities. Those parental responsibilities can include significant decision-making responsibilities for the child (such as where and how the child receives health care, where the child attends school, and how the child practices a religion), as well as parenting time (which includes day-to-day caretaking functions for the child, previously known as physical custody). However, if a man is not legally acknowledged as a child’s father, he cannot seek parental responsibilities.
In order to be allocated parental responsibilities, an alleged father will need to file a petition to have parentage adjudicated, or a complaint to adjudicate parentage. To establish paternity, the court will typically order a DNA test be completed. If the man is in fact the biological child of the father, then it may be possible for the father to be allocated parental responsibilities. However, it is important to seek help and advice from a family lawyer in the Chicago area.
Another important reason to establish paternity is so that the child can have full financial support from both parents. In most cases where an alleged father is not providing his portion of the child support obligation, the other parent will file a petition asking the court to adjudicate parentage. After a DNA test, if the court determines that the alleged father is the biological father of the child, the court can order that parent to contribute his portion of the child support obligation.
In addition to a child support order, a court can also issue a temporary child support order upon a “showing of clear and convincing evidence of parentage.”
Of course, another important reason to establish paternity is so that the child can have access to certain benefits through the biological father, as well as a clear understanding and information about his or her familial and health history.
If you have a reason for wanting to establish paternity, you may be able to file a petition to do so. There are many different reasons for a party to want an answer about parentage, and an experienced Chicago paternity lawyer can assist you. Contact the Arami Law Office for more information about how we assist clients in paternity cases in Cook County.
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