Proving paternity can be a complex thing to do, and a difficult one to discuss with your spouse. However, it can also be important for your child’s future. Before people had access to things like DNA testing, there were a variety of laws in place that created presumptions about who was a child’s father. Many of these laws are still around, though they have been modified in recent years to account for the changing technology available to actually make determinations about paternity. The key question for paternity laws asks whether the parents of the child are married.
Married parents ordinarily present the simplest case for establishing paternity. If two people are married when the child is conceived or born, then the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 creates a presumption that the husband is the child’s father. However, the father can dispute this presumption.
In order to dispute this, the husband must file a Denial of Paternity form when the child is born. This form requires the signatures of both the husband and wife as well as the child’s biological father. Of course, there are some cases where not all parties agree on the child’s paternity, so they do not want to sign the form. In these cases, the Child Support Services, a division of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, can handle DNA testing.
Unmarried parents can establish paternity in a variety of ways, again depending on both parents’ willingness to acknowledge the child. If there is no dispute over paternity, then the parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form to establish the child’s parentage. If there is a dispute, things can be more complicated.
Mothers who cannot get the father to acknowledge paternity have two options. Either they can contact Child Support Services again, or they can go to the courts. Although the exact procedures will vary between the two options, they will likely culminate in a DNA test. If the DNA test comes back positive or if the supposed father refuses to cooperate with the process, then the government can declare him the father.
Why Establish Paternity
The accurate establishment of paternity is important for both the parents and the child. From the child’s perspective, he or she needs to know who his or her father is for the purposes of collecting child support. Children also have the right to certain other things from their father, such as inheritances and veterans benefits. The father also has an interest in knowing that he has a child out in the world.
If you are currently facing a paternity dispute and would like to know more about how best to handle it, contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney today. Our dedicated team is here to help guide you through the legal process.