Establishing Paternity in Illinois
In the United States, the number of unmarried parents is on the rise. As single parenting becomes more commonplace in modern society, the stigma that it used to carry has begun to fade, and more unmarried parents are asserting their rights. This increase in the rate of single parenting makes the issue of paternity all the more important.
Paternity is the state of being a father; in Illinois, this is also known as having a father-child relationship. For some children, paternity is never legally established. Even if the child of the father is known, his name may never be listed on the birth certificate, there may never be a court determination of paternity, and the father may never play a role in the child's life. Legal paternity is the finding of a father-child relationship by a court.
Benefits of Establishing PaternityThere are many benefits to establishing legal paternity, regardless of whether or not the father plays an active role in the child's life, because certain legal issues can arise for mothers, fathers, and children if paternity has not been legally determined. Establishing paternity can reduce or eliminate some of those issues. Additionally, once legal paternity has been established, several beneficial opportunities and legal rights become available. Some of the issues and benefits that legally establishing paternity can help facilitate include:
- Establishment and collection of child support;
- The right of the child to access the father's medical, social security (including disability), and veteran's benefits;
- Inheritance of the father's estate with or without a will, depending on the father's estate plan;
- The father's life insurance benefits for the child;
- Access to medical information about the father, which will allow the child to plan for and understand any hereditary traits or health problems that may be passed down; and
- Visitation, custody, and involvement in the child's life for the father (though men who fathered their children through rape, sexual assault, or sexual abuse are prohibited from exercising these rights without the mother's consent).
Methods of Establishing Paternity in IllinoisThere are three main ways of establishing legal paternity in Illinois. In many cases, the father of the child voluntarily acknowledges that he is the father, through the signing of certain paperwork at the child's birth, or through acknowledging paternity later in court. In other words, parents can consent to a finding of paternity. There is also a presumption that a child born to a married couple is the husband's child. There may also be an Administrative determination of paternity by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Lastly, as discussed below, paternity can be determined through DNA testing if a parent contests paternity.
Parties Allowed to Bring Paternity Suits in Illinois
The parties allowed to bring a paternity suit in Illinois include:
- The child;
- The mother;
- A pregnant woman;
- Any person or public agency that has custody of the child or has provided or is providing financial support to the child; or
- A man presumed or claiming to be the father of the child.
Contesting Paternity SuitsPaternity suits in Illinois can be contested. For example, if a woman files a petition alleging that a man is the father of her child, that man can go to court and put forth evidence to show that he is not the father. The same is true if a man files a petition claiming to be the father; the Mother can provide evidence to refute this. DNA testing is almost always ordered when either party contests paternity.
Additionally, a party can bring an action to declare that a father-child relationship does not exist. This usually occurs when DNA testing has already determined a man is not the biological father of a child, or when a married parent wants to refute that the husband is the father of a child born during the marriage.
Illinois Paternity Lawyers Can HelpIf you need legal representation in establishing or contesting paternity, contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC for a free consultation today. Located in Wheaton, Illinois, our skilled family lawyers have years of experience handling paternity suits, and can help you with all issues surrounding the establishment of paternity.