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Will County family law attorneyLegal matters related to a child’s paternity rarely exist in a vacuum. Often, they are accompanied by questions regarding the extent to which the father will be involved in the child’s life. For example, will the relationship be limited solely to financial support, or will the child be spending significant time with the father? The answer varies from case to case, and regardless of the method you use to establish paternity, you should be prepared for the possibility of a court case addressing parenting time and parental responsibilities.

What Comes With the Establishment of Legal Paternity in Illinois?

In many cases, the primary purpose of establishing legal paternity is to ensure that the father is obligated to contribute to child support. This, of course, benefits the child, but it also helps the mother or whoever has custody of the child. Additionally, when a legal parent-child relationship has been established, the child is eligible for other financial benefits from the father, including inheritance, health insurance coverage, and benefits from life insurance, Social Security, and Veterans Affairs.

A child’s legal father also must be notified if the child is involved in an adoption proceeding, giving him the opportunity to consent or contest the adoption. However, the establishment of paternity does not, in and of itself, give the father rights or obligations regarding the exercise of parenting time and parental responsibilities. Rather, defining these arrangements requires additional action in family court.

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Joliet paternity lawyerWhen a child is born to unmarried parents, there is often uncertainty surrounding the father’s involvement in the child’s life, or even the father’s identity. Establishing legal paternity can remove much of that uncertainty and lead to many important benefits, including financial support for the child and parental rights for the father. Under Illinois law, there are several options for establishing paternity, and it is important to consider which one is the best choice for your case.

Methods of Establishing Paternity

Some ways of establishing paternity are more difficult than others, and the options available will depend in large part on the nature of the relationship between the child’s parents. The possible methods of establishing a man’s parentage in Illinois include:

  • Presumption of paternity - In Illinois, a man is presumed to be the legal father of a child if he was previously married to the child’s mother within 300 days prior to the child’s birth, even if he is no longer married to the mother when the child is born. Additionally, a man who marries the child’s mother after the child’s birth may be presumed to be the father if he agrees to be listed as such on the birth certificate. However, it is important to note that a presumption of paternity may be rebutted if there is evidence that another man is the child’s biological father.
  • Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) - A man who is not presumed to be the father can still establish paternity with few obstacles if he and the child’s mother agree to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity after the child’s birth. This form may be completed at the hospital where the child is born, or at a later time, and it must be filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) in order to take effect.
  • Administrative Paternity Order - If both parents are not in agreement regarding the child’s parentage, a VAP will not be a viable option. One alternative for a mother who is seeking to secure child support is to pursue an administrative order through DHFS. DHFS may order an alleged father to submit to genetic testing as part of this process.
  • Adjudication of Paternity - Another option for either parent is to petition for an adjudication of paternity in court. This process typically involves court-ordered genetic testing, and the court will consider the results and other evidence in determining whether a man should be adjudicated as the child’s legal father. After a judicial order of paternity, the legal father can also petition the court for parenting time and parental responsibilities.

Contact a Will County Parentage Attorney

Given the variety of options available for establishing paternity, you may have questions regarding the best way to proceed and what to expect throughout the process. At The Foray Firm, our experienced Joliet family law attorneys can help. Contact us today at 312-702-1293 to learn how you can get the legal guidance and representation you need to secure your parental rights and provide for your child’s needs.

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Will County paternity lawyerIf you have recently had a child, or simply never identified your child's father on their birth certificate, it is important that you legally recognize who the child’s biological father is. For some mothers, naming their child’s father may open a door for a contentious or abusive relationship between the child and their biological father. For others, they may not be certain about who the father is. A difficult situation that some mothers encounter is their child’s biological father passing away before they were able to name them on the birth certificate. Even if the child’s father is deceased, proving paternity can lead to a number of benefits, both financial and emotional. Luckily, those with male children still have the ability to do so with the help of modern technology.

DNA Testing on Family Members

For those who want biological proof of who their child’s father is, DNA testing is the manner in which this can be done. This is a common option for men who are uncertain about their biological connection to a child. Though it may seem far-fetched, this is also a way to prove paternity for a man who is deceased if you have a son. Modern technology has allowed lab technicians to determine a child’s father by analyzing the man’s blood relatives’ DNA. Such paternity testing will be conducted using DNA samples from the paternal grandparents or alleged father’s other children since this will reveal whether or not the genes actually match the deceased, alleged father. By looking at the chromosomes within the DNA, lab technicians can determine whether or not there is a biological connection between the child and the man in question.

Taking a closer look at the biology behind the testing, one must understand that men have an X and a Y chromosome while females have two X chromosomes. For male children, their Y chromosome will be compared to that of the paternal male relatives. Y chromosomes are passed virtually unchanged down the male line. By comparing the Y chromosome of the male child to the alleged father’s brother or father, one can determine whether they match—signifying their biological connection—or not—proving that they are unrelated.

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Is My Prenuptial Agreement Valid in Illinois?If you could protect yourself from an unpredictable future, would you do it? Many engaged couples have come to the realization that protecting yourself from the unknown is better than being unprepared. As a bright-eyed and recently engaged couple, divorce is likely not at the forefront of your mind. You are probably spending time thinking about the fun part of the engagement: planning a wedding and a future together. Just as nailing down the details of your wedding arrangements is critical for a successful wedding day, recognizing and preparing for the possibility of divorce can also lead to a better marriage. The unpredictability of an ending relationship can add anxiety and tension to marriage, whereas having things planned out with the help of a prenuptial agreement can ease your worried mind. If you are considering signing a prenup, you should be aware of the following mistakes that can make your agreement invalid in a court of law.

DIY Disaster

As is the case with most legal proceedings, generic legal forms can be found on the internet and filled out by each spouse to act as their prenuptial agreement. Rarely do these unsupervised and uninformed DIY prenups hold up in a court of law. Trying to cut out the cost of an attorney and create your own prenuptial agreement with your spouse can actually lead you to spend more time and money in court later on. Working with an attorney is critical for ensuring equality within the agreement, compliance with your state’s laws, and proper filing of the legal document.

Full Disclosure

The most common reason why couples decide to create a prenuptial agreement is to divide their assets and debts evenly before emotions are heightened by the stress and devastation of divorce. It is imperative that you and your spouse fully disclose your assets and debts in the agreement. Failure to do so can invalidate the entire agreement. If you do not disclose your financial background, the court may assume that you were trying to conceal assets and keep them out of the divorce and your spouse’s hands. Whether intentional or not, you could find yourself scratching your entire prenuptial agreement if things are left unsaid.

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Open vs. Closed Adoptions: the Pros and Cons for Adoptive and Biological ParentsWhen prospective parents consider adopting a child, they often think that the biggest question that they will need to answer is where they would like to adopt their child from. They may be considering the benefits and drawbacks of adopting internationally or staying more local to find their child. While this is an important question to consider before making your adoption decision, one of the most life-changing choices that will need to be made is how involved you would like your child’s biological parents to be in their life. This is usually not fully up to the adoptive parents — the biological parents may wish to discuss this before committing to giving you their child. Some biological parents may not wish to be involved in their child’s life, while others may not be able to give you their child without the promise of a relationship moving forward. Whether you are the biological parents or the adoptive parents, you should consider the pros and cons of each type of adoption.

Open Adoptions

The level of openness with your adoption can vary from family to family. Some wish to simply exchange information so that the child can reach out to their biological parents if they would like, while others may create an agreement with the child’s biological parents to determine what their relationship will look like and how frequently they will communicate. For adoptive parents, this line of communication can be helpful whenever they have questions for their child’s biological parents. This could be about medical history, family connections, or anything else about the child that they could not know without the biological parents’ help. Having an open relationship can be difficult but important for biological parents. They may spend their lives wondering whether or not they chose the right family or hoping that their child would reach out later in life. Deciding on an open adoption eliminates these questions and can help the biological parents know that their child is safe and healthy.

Closed Adoptions

In closed adoptions, the adoptive parents will receive little to no information about their child’s biological parents or their background. This will protect both sides’ privacy and will not allow contact with the biological parents after the child’s birth and adoption. Many adoptive and biological parents believe this is the best arrangement for their child. It will eliminate any contentious or forced relationships that may be expected in an open relationship. It can also be difficult for the biological parents to see their child grow up in a home that is not their own. While they may have made the decision to give their child to another family, they may not want to see them live a different life. Closed adoptions are also a good option if the child’s biological parents are abusive or unfit to foster a healthy relationship with their child.

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