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Paternity and Fathers' Rights in Illinois

 Posted on September 14, 2017 in Paternity

Illinois paternity lawyersIn many cases, the paternity of a newborn child can be established very simply: if the mother’s husband is a witness to the process, more often than not, he is the child’s father. However, there are many more complex instances where paternity is not so easily settled, and there are many situations where specifically being named as a child’s father confers certain rights on a man that he would not otherwise have. If you are in a position where the paternity of your children is in doubt, there are steps you can take to remedy that situation.

How Paternity Is Established

In Illinois, paternity is established via one of four methods:

  1. The mother and putative father being married at the child’s conception, birth, or both;
  2. Both parents signing and submitting a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form to the appropriate authority;
  3. Illinois Child Support Services entering an Administrative Paternity Order; or
  4. A family court judge entering a similar order on their own authority.

If none of these methods are used, there will not be a father’s name on the birth certificate at first. Only the mother, the child, or a man who believes he is the father may petition to reopen the matter.

It is important to know that if the mother is married at the time of conception or birth, her husband is legally presumed to be the father, even if all involved know that to not be the case. If you, for example, are the father of a child due to a woman cheating on her husband, he would still be legally presumed to be the father, and a court hearing would be required to amend that presumption.

The Rights of Fathers

It may not be readily apparent what rights are conferred upon a man who chooses to acknowledge paternity of a child. However, in Illinois, there are many, including some that are exclusively the province of the two biological parents, regardless of marital status. Some of these include:

  • Enabling access to family medical information. By federal law, parents are usually entitled to their child’s medical information under the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), but they are the only ones who are permitted to view this. The law states that only the ‘personal representative’ of the child may view the information, and this is generally held to apply to parents - not other interested adults;
  • Securing access to benefits. Only a father whose name is listed on a child’s official birth certificate may pass down their right to access governmental benefits. For example, if you are a serviceman entitled to a military pension, your veterans’ benefits may not be passed on to children whose paternity you have not acknowledged. This can significantly affect questions like financial aid for higher education; and
  • Paternity leave. Under the Illinois Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), fathers are entitled to take three weeks (15 business days) of paternity leave if they work for the state. If they are not a state employee, they are covered under the federal FMLA if they work for a company with more than 50 employees and have done so for more than 1,250 hours.

Married fathers also have the right to pursue parenting time and parental responsibilities in case of divorce, regardless of what the mother’s preferences may be. Illinois law contains a rebuttable presumption that a child has the best quality of life when both parents are actively involved.

Contact an Experienced Paternity Lawyer

If it was not established at birth, settling the question of paternity can be difficult and time-consuming. A skilled attorney can make a huge difference. The dedicated Naperville paternity attorneys at Pesce Law Group, P.C., are intimately familiar with this complex area of law, and we are happy to put our knowledge to work for you. Contact our office today to discuss your options.


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