Understanding Parentage (Paternity) in the State of Illinois
Under Illinois state law, every child has the right to receive emotional, physical, mental, and financial support from both parents. Fathers also have the right to seek parenting time with their biological children, regardless of the status of their relationship with the child's natural mother. But when a child is born to unmarried parents, legal paternity must be established before any rights can be enforced. If you are an unmarried parent, or suspected of being the father of a child, understanding what parentage is and how it can be established is very important.
What is Parentage?
When children are born to married parents, there is little question about their parentage, or the identity of their father. If the child's parents later divorce, the father is legally able to seek parenting time with the child and has an obligation to support the child. However, children who are born to unmarried parents do not have this same built-in parentage. While the tie to their mother is automatic, the paternity (biological tie to the father) must be legally established before it can be considered valid.
How Paternity is Established in Illinois
At the time of birth, unmarried parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity to establish legal paternity. However, if the father is not present at the time of birth, or if there is a question of paternity, the parents can pursue establishment of paternity through the courts, or through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Potential fathers may request genetic testing to validate the establishment of paternity.
Why Legal Parentage is Important in Your Case
If you are an unwed mother seeking child support, then legal paternity must be established before support can be received. Fathers, who may wish to spend time with their children, should understand that establishment of paternity does not grant automatic parenting time rights. Instead, this is simply the first step. Legal parenting time rights, which are enforceable through the courts, can be pursued through the family court.
Whether you are pursuing child support or parenting time, or believe you have been wrongfully named as the father of a child, the DuPage County parentage attorneys at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC can help. Our attorneys offer the support and advocacy you need in your parentage case. And, if you are seeking rights to a child, we help you put their interests, and the interests of your family, first. Call us today at 630-665-7300 and ask how we can assist with your case today.