Paternity of a child can be a contested issue in family court. Proving paternity is sometimes essential for a mother enforcing her right to child support or for a father seeking custody or visitation. The legal process of establishing a child’s paternity in Illinois can be simple or complex, depending largely on the cooperativeness of the alleged father.
Fatherhood is usually not an issue when children are born in wedlock. Under the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, a man is presumed to be the legal father of a child if he and the mother were married when the child was born. If the parents get married after the child is born, the new husband is presumed to be the father if he was so designated on the child’s birth certificate. In addition, a child born within 300 days of a divorce or separation is presumed to be the ex-husband’s child. However, these presumptions of paternity can be overcome by evidence that another man is the father.
If no presumption applies, paternity must be proved. The simplest method is a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP), an official document that is filed with the state Department of Health and Family Services. The child’s parents must complete, sign and date the VAP and have it witnessed by a third party. A VAP can be filed at any time before the child reaches age 20.
In situations where unmarried parents do not agree to sign a VAP, paternity must be established through an administrative or judicial proceeding, at which you should be represented by an experienced family law attorney.
An administrative paternity order may be available from Illinois Child Support Services in a case where the child’s father is refusing to support the child. If the alleged father denies parentage, the state agency can order genetic testing.
In any circumstances where paternity is disputed, either parent or a person with legal custody or guardianship of the child can file a petition in court at any time before the child reaches age 20. The court can order genetic testing for the potential father through an appointed expert. Each party can also retain an independent expert to complete additional testing or to provide testimony to refute the results of the court-appointed expert’s test. If the potential father refuses to be tested, the court may decide the case against him.
If all experts conclude that the potential father is not the natural father of the child, the court may dismiss the paternity case. In cases where the DNA testing is not conclusive, the court will give the test results appropriate deference and weigh them against the other evidence in the case to make a decision.
At the Law Offices of Paul Chatzky, our experienced family law attorney can review the circumstances of your paternity situation. Whether you are a father pursuing rights to your child or a mother seeking child support payments, we are ready to represent you in the court in Chicago, Skokie or in other suburban District Courts. Call our Northfield office at 847-416-1646 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and families. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As a…
Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her studies…