Who is a child’s “real” father, and what rights and responsibilities does being a father bring? Establishing paternity, especially in situations where the couple is not married, can be a complex and emotionally charged area of the law.
The establishment of paternity allows a father to enforce his right to be a part of his child’s life. It also allows a mother, on behalf of her child, to enforce the child’s right to receive financial support, including contribution to medical costs, daycare costs, and education costs.
Establishing paternity may be simple when it is done with the consent of both parents, but when parentage is contested, it may result in a legal battle. As science and the law have evolved, so too has the use of paternity tests to establish facts and secure rights under the law.
If you are faced with any paternity issues, it makes sense to consult an experienced family law attorney to avoid making mistakes that can be costly both financially and emotionally.
The seasoned and compassionate Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. have extensive experience with all aspects of paternity issues and can help. For example, we can help a mother establish the paternity of a child and then use the results to obtain child support, medical benefits, and life insurance benefits. On behalf of a putative (assumed) father, we can use a paternity test to challenge the client’s paternity when the mother is claiming that the client is the father of her child or use a paternity test to establish the father’s rights when a mother is denying the father a relationship with his child.
Our attorneys always focus on our clients’ needs and feelings, and we work to clarify and resolve the issues they are facing in the most effective and efficient manner. We offer a free consultation to help you find the best solution for your individual paternity issues. Call us today for your free consultation or contact us online.
Illinois law provides that “the parent and child relationship, including support obligations, extends equally to every child and to every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents.” In order for parents who are unmarried to ensure that they and their children are protected, they must first establish paternity, so that the baby’s biological father becomes the legal father, too.
The Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (750 ILCS 45/1, et seq.), deals with issues revolving around children born out of wedlock. The Act provides that a man is the “presumed” father of the child if any of the following is true:
Legal actions related to paternity typically involve one of the following:
There are several ways to establish paternity in Illinois:
There are times, such as when a mother is still legally married to one man but has gotten pregnant by another, when the husband is “presumed” to be the father, but is not. In these cases, a paternity suit may be filed by the child’s natural mother, the “presumed” father of the child, or the child.
Actions to determine paternity may involve depositions and blood tests ordered before the child is born, and DNA testing after birth.
A DNA test, involving a simple swab to obtain skin cells from the putative father and the child, can rule out paternity with 100% accuracy, and can also conclusively determine paternity with 99.99% accuracy.
The court or any party to a paternity action may request DNA testing. If the DNA test is requested but is refused, the court will likely decide the case against that party.
Paternity suits to establish the existence of the father-child relationship may be filed until the child turns 20 years old. Actions to declare the non-existence of a parent-child relationship must be filed within two years after the father obtains knowledge of the relevant facts.
If the parents are not together, child support and custody issues are decided in court similarly to how they would be in a divorce situation. In a paternity case, the court may also award child support retroactive to the child’s birth and award reasonable expenses related to the mother’s pregnancy. The rights of unmarried parents are the same as those who were previously married, except to the extent that the “best interests” of the child are found to be different based on the lack of a prior marriage.
The knowledgeable and compassionate Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. have significant experience in all aspects of paternity and represent mothers, fathers, and putative fathers in DuPage, Cook, Will, Kane and Kendall counties. We offer a free and confidential consultation, where our lawyers can explain paternity law, your rights, and how we may be able to resolve your paternity matter.