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How to Initiate a Parentage Case in Illinois

In Illinois, paternity forms the basis of a father’s parental rights and parental responsibilities. For married men, paternity is rather simple — a man is assumed to be the father of his wife’s child and no legal action is required to establish paternity.

For unmarried men, the process does not have to be complicated. If paternity is not in dispute, both parents can sign and submit a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form (VAP), which is sufficient to establish legal paternity.

However, if there is a dispute over parentage—either because the mother denies the paternity or the alleged father denies paternity—legal action may be required. Here are the four basic steps to bring a paternity case in Illinois.

    1. 1. Complete the Petition Forms

Parties seeking to prove parentage must complete the proper petition form. There are two basic types of paternity petition forms – one for a mother seeking to prove a man is the father of her child and one for a man who seeks to prove he is the father of a child.

      1. 2. File Paternity Forms with the Court

Once the parentage petition form is filled out, you must file it with the appropriate Illinois court. How exactly you file the form will depend on the specific county in which you are taking action. In some cases, parentage petitions can be e-filed. Your petition must be filed correctly, if not, your case may be prevented from moving forward.

      1. 3. Notify the Other Parent

In Illinois, you have an obligation to serve the other party with your legal complaint (the petition) and a summons. Failure to properly serve the other party could result in the case being automatically dismissed. If you have any questions about serving a respondent in a family law case, it is highly recommended you consult with an experienced Illinois paternity lawyer.

      1. 4. Prepare for the Hearing

Assuming your parentage petition has been filed and served in the correct manner, a paternity hearing will be scheduled. At the hearing, you will get an opportunity to present your case. It is crucial you are prepared for the hearing. If paternity remains in dispute, genetic testing may be ordered.

It is worth remembering that proving paternity is not always the end of a legal case—especially if parentage has been in dispute. A mother who proves paternity may want to seek child support from the father. Similarly, a man who proves he is the father of a child has a right to make a claim for the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Speak to Our Wheaton, IL Paternity Lawyer Today

At Keller Legal Services, our Illinois paternity lawyers are compassionate, skilled advocates for parents. To set up a free, private review of your paternity case, please contact us today. With law offices in Naperville, Aurora, and Bolingbrook, our paternity attorneys represent clients throughout Northern Illinois.