The legal status of paternity bestows a set of legal rights and legal responsibilities on a father. While establishing paternity is automatic for married couples, it can sometimes be a complicated process for those who are unmarried – particularly if there is a dispute over the child’s parentage. In this article, our experienced Wheaton paternity attorneys provide an overview of the most important things parents need to know about establishing the biological paternity of a child in Illinois.
Four Ways to Establish Paternity in Illinois
There are four different ways to establish paternity in Illinois. To be clear, depending on the specific nature of your situation, you may not be required to take any action at all. Indeed, when both parents are in agreement as to the father’s biological relationship with the child, establishing legal paternity is not a complicated process. The four ways to prove paternity in Illinois are:
Marriage (Assumed Paternity): First and foremost, married fathers do not need to take any action to prove their paternity. Under Illinois state law, a man is presumed to be the father of his wife’s children. As a result, he automatically receives parental rights and parental responsibilities.
Voluntary Acknowledgement: For unmarried parents, the easiest way to establish biological paternity is by completing and submitting the official Illinois Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP). To be clear, this form can only be used when both (unmarried) parents agree the man is the father of the child. In this situation, this jointly submitted form is sufficient to establish parental rights and parental duties for the father.
Administrative Paternity Order: In Illinois, paternity can also be established through an Administrative Paternity Order from the state’s Department of Child Support Services. As a general matter, this type of order is entered when a mother is seeking to obtain child support payments from the child’s father. It should be noted that Illinois Child Support Services has considerable authority to determine paternity. When appropriate, the agency can even order genetic testing of the alleged father.
Judicial Paternity Order: Finally, paternity can be established through a judicial order. There are many reasons why both fathers and mothers may take action to seek a judicial order establishing paternity. In fact, a child even has the legal right to file a paternity action on behalf of themselves. As paternity actions are complicated legal claims, it is generally advised parties seek guidance from an attorney.
Our Illinois paternity lawyers represent both mothers and fathers in the full range of paternity cases. Whether you are a father preparing to prove paternity for your child, or a mother seeking to establish paternity and claim child support, you should always be ready to seek professional legal support.
Get Help From Our Paternity Attorneys in Wheaton and Naperville
At Keller Legal Services, our Illinois family law attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of paternity cases. We are committed to providing our clients with effective, solutions-oriented legal representation. To arrange a free and strictly confidential review of your paternity case, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team today.