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How Can I Establish Legal Parentage of My Child if I Am Unmarried?

Posted on in Paternity

DuPage County family law attorneysChild custody and parentage issues can become more complicated when parents are unmarried. Illinois law assumes that the husband of a woman who gives birth is the father of that child. However, an unwed father is not presumed to be the child's biological parent. Fathers who want to become their child’s legal parent must establish parentage. After parentage is established, the father enjoys parental rights and gains certain legal duties to the child.

Benefits of Establishing Parentage

There once was a time when unwed parents were ostracized. Now, about 40 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When unmarried parents have a child, a legal relationship between the child and his or her father must be established before a court will order child support. Establishing paternity not only makes the parental relationship official, but also provides the child with emotional and financial support from their noncustodial parent including:

  • Essential communication and relationships with both parents;
  • Child support and federal benefits including Social Security benefits; and
  • Health insurance benefits.

Methods for Establishing Paternity in Illinois

There are several methods unmarried Illinois parents can use to establish parentage. A court an enter an Order of Paternity, parents can complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) document, or the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services can enter an Administrative Paternity Order. After parentage is legally established, either parent may be required to pay the other child support. It is important to note that establishing parentage with a VAP or Administrative Paternity Order does not automatically guarantee custody or visitation. Issues of parental responsibility and parenting time are decided by the courts.

Contesting Paternity

Either parent may contest a paternity case if they believe that the biological father is someone other than the legal father. In most such cases, the court will then require the mother, child, and the alleged father to complete genetic tests to determine paternity. Genetic testing is considered to be extremely accurate in identifying whether or not a man is the father of a child. The state of Illinois has the authority to order genetic testing of a probable father even if he does not wish to participate. He does have a right to contest the results of the genetic tests and request a second round of tests.

Contact an Aurora, IL Paternity Attorney

Every child deserves a loving father. To schedule a confidential, cost-free consultation with our experienced Naperville family law attorneys, contact Pesce Law Group, P.C.. Call us at 630-352-2240 today.

 

Sources:

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/Portals/0/Domestic%20Relations%20Division/Seminar%20Materials/DR.Parentage%20Act%20Grid.pdf

http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/enforcement-establishing-paternity.aspx

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