Paternity Testing and Unmarried Fathers' Rights

 Posted on January 20, 2015 in Child Custody

Illinios divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois Parentage Act of 1984When an unmarried couple has a child, the father does not automatically have the same rights to his son or daughter as a married father has to his child. This is because unless a couple is married at the time of the child's birth or the mother was married at the time of conception, her husband or former husband is assumed to be the father. With this assumption comes the title of “legal father,” which comes with all the standard rights a father has to his child.

Unmarried fathers need to prove their paternity in order to have rights to their children. These rights are outlined in the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 and include the following:

  • The right to seek partial or full custody of the child;
  • The right to add his name to the child's birth certificate; and
  • The mother's right to seek child support payments from the father.

Until paternity is established, a man is considered to be a child's “alleged father.” Once it is established, he becomes the child's legal father.

How to Establish Paternity in Illinois

There are three ways to establish paternity in Illinois. They are as follows:

  • Through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. When a couple opts to acknowledge paternity this way, both the mother and father must complete, sign, and date it while in the presence of a witness. This can be done immediately following a child's birth.
  • By an Order of Paternity, which is ordered and enforced by a judge.
  • Through an Administrative Paternity Order. This order is entered by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services' Child Support Services. The department contacts both parents to gather information regarding the child's paternity and, if the father voluntarily acknowledges his paternity, he becomes the child's legal father. He has the right to request genetic testing to prove his paternity.

If a woman's husband or former husband is not her child's biological father, he has the right to sign a Denial of Paternity form. This releases him from any rights and responsibilities he has toward the child. The mother and her child's biological father must then sign Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

Paternity and Child Support

Once paternity is established, the child's mother may seek child support payments from the child's father. Generally, the court uses the same factors to decide an appropriate child support amount that it uses to decide an amount for divorcing parents. These include each parent's income, the child's personal needs, and other financial considerations for the child and the parents.

Contact an Illinois Family Attorney

Our experienced Kane County family attorneys understand the struggles of seeking paternity for your child and the issues that accompany this search, such as child support, child custody, and the relationship between your child and his or her father. Contact our office today to discuss your needs with one of our family-oriented attorneys.

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