Paternity is defined as the legal relationship between a father and his children, and the rights and responsibilities that come along with that relationship. Fathers who are or were married to the mother of their child do not typically need to establish paternity, since the legal presumption is that a mother's husband or ex-husband (within a biologically appropriate time-frame) is the father.
Unmarried fathers, however, must proactively establish their paternity - or the mother may seek to do so. Unless both parents agree on who is the child's father and are willing to submit a signed acknowledgment, it is likely you will need to establish paternity in court. If you are a parent seeking to have the paternity of your child established for legal reasons, an experienced paternity lawyer in Illinois can help. Our firm's paternity attorneys have experience representing both mothers and fathers in paternity cases.
Rights and Responsibilities of Legal Fatherhood
A father who has established his paternity has the right to seek parenting time - or visitation- with his child, as well as the standing to ask for authority to make significant decisions regarding the child's life – often called custody. Paternity also carries the responsibility of providing for the child, often through child support payments.
Who May Seek to Establish Paternity?
Both mothers and fathers may seek to have paternity of their child established in court. A father who is not married to his child's mother will typically file a paternity case in order to obtain the right to parenting time and/or custody. A mother will typically initiate such proceedings so that she may then obtain a child support order.
What Happens During Paternity Proceedings?
How a paternity case proceeds depends on the parents involved and what they are seeking. A biological father who disputes paternity may be ordered to submit to a DNA test. If the father is not present in court, his paternity may be established in his absence using other evidence, such as hospital records or witness testimony. A father seeking custody or parenting time may submit a DNA test results as evidence in a case in which the mother disputes paternity as a reason for denying and father access to the child.
Presumed and Biological Fathers in Illinois
While most people associate paternity with being a child's biological father, this is not always the case. In Illinois, men who are married to a mother when she conceives or gives birth are presumed to be the legal father of the child, even if another man is likely the biological father.
If you believe you are the biological father of a child who has a presumed legal father, or if your child's mother is married to another man and she disputes your paternity, you should consult with an experienced lawyer in Illinois who can help you pursue legal fatherhood.
Consult an Experienced Paternity Lawyer in Wheaton
Whether you are a mother seeking support from your child's father, or a father seeking to establish a legal relationship with your child, our skilled DuPage County family law attorneys will work passionately on behalf of you and your child. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation today.