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Can a Potential Father Start a Paternity Case in Illinois?

 Posted on August 08,2022 in Divorce

Joliet paternity lawyerIt is common for the mother of a child to initiate a parentage case, hoping to positively identify her child’s father and seek child support. It is a bit less common for such a case to be opened by a father, but in Illinois, either parent - or alleged parent - can petition a court to declare parentage. Fathers often do so when the mother of the child they believe is theirs is not letting them see the child. Establishing paternity opens the door for a father to seek court-ordered time with his child. This sometimes happens when the mother and father have broken up or were never romantically involved beyond a casual sexual relationship. If you believe that you are the father of a child, you do have the right to seek a court order declaring you are the parent. An attorney can help you take the right steps. 

How Can I Ask the Court to Declare Parentage as a Father?

Establishing yourself as your child’s father is the first step toward gaining the legal right to be a part of their life. Once you are declared the father, you can start seeking joint custody rights so that you can enjoy a meaningful relationship with your child. 

 Illinois offers two different forms for those seeking to open a parentage action - one for mothers, and one for fathers. You will start by completing this petition form asserting that you are the child’s father. Your attorney will help you file it with the right court. 

You are required to serve the mother with notice that you have initiated this action. Failing to do so could cause your case to be thrown out. Even if you are worried that the mother will not cooperate, this step is important. 

What Happens at a Parentage Hearing?

At the parentage hearing, you and your lawyer will have a chance to explain to the court why you believe that you are the father of the child in question. If the mother appears and agrees that you are the father, a declaration of paternity may be entered immediately. If she does not appear but was served properly, the court may enter a default order declaring you the child’s legal parent. 

However, if the mother appears and disputes paternity, the court is likely to order genetic testing. Whether you are then legally declared the father will depend on the results of the test. If the genetic test determines you are the child’s father, you are free to open a case for the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. 

Speak With a Will County Parentage Lawyer

If you are a father seeking to establish legal paternity, The Foray Firm can help. Our experienced Homewood parentage attorneys will guide you through the process of petitioning the court for an order declaring you the legal father. Contact us at 312-702-1293 for a free consultation. 



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