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July 10,2021

Child Support, Family Law

How to Initiate the Paternity Process

HomeBlogChild SupportHow to Initiate the Paternity Process

Establishing paternity is an essential step for children, fathers, and mothers alike. Paternity gives the appropriate parties legal rights, protections, and responsibilities. Suppose a child is born to unmarried parents or parents who are in a civil union. In that case, the father isn’t automatically granted legal paternity. Even if the parents live together and plan on getting married, the father can’t be added to the child’s birth certificate unless or until paternity is established. If you need help taking this step, an experienced Illinois paternity attorney can help ensure it’s done the right way.

Why is Paternity Crucial?

Paternity establishes a legal relationship between the child and the father. To be presumed the father of a child, the father must be married or have been married or in a civil union with the mother within 300 days prior to the birth.  

Establishing paternity gives a child the rights to:

  • Financial security
  • Social Security benefits if the father becomes disabled or deceased
  • Inheritance
  • Veteran’s benefits if applicable)
  • Health and life insurance benefits

In some situations, it might also give the child the chance to obtain family medical histories. 

Paternity also provides fathers the right to be involved in their child’s life with benefits such as visitation and parenting time. Fathers who need help establishing their paternity so they can have such involvement shouldn’t hesitate to contact a well-versed Illinois paternity lawyer.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

Since paternity is a legal status, it must be achieved in the ways allowable by law. Fathers in Illinois have three options for establishing paternity:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP): Both parents must complete and sign this form. It must be witnessed and filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). This form can be used at any time to establish paternity and is generally the easiest way. However, if either parent isn’t sure of the child’s paternity, this form should not be used. They should turn to genetic testing to establish paternity instead.
  • An Administrative Paternity Order: An order entered by HFS’ Child Support Services
  • An Order of Paternity: Entered by a family court

The last two methods are commonly used if the father contests that he is the child’s biological father. If this happens, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has the authority to act as a liaison. It will attempt to establish paternity first before any legal measures are taken. In an effort to resolve any paternity issues, HFS will typically schedule DNA testing as well as an in-person interview. If the alleged father fails to come to the interview, then HFS can determine him to be the legal father by default.

If a court hearing is required to establish paternity, the State’s Attorney’s Office represents HFS. The mother and alleged father must attend the hearing in order to establish paternity. Suppose the father doesn’t come to the court hearing. In that case, the judge has the authority to establish legal paternity in his absence.

Questions about Paternity in Illinois? Call the Goodman Law Firm Today

While paternity is simple for many families, for others, it isn’t. If you fall into the latter category, our Illinois paternity attorney can help. Perhaps you need to establish paternity so you can see your children and be involved in their lives. Or maybe you need to establish paternity so that you can receive child support payments to help raise your child. Whatever the case may be, you can rely on the Goodman Law Firm for help. Reach out to us today to book your paternity case review. 

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