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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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