Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C.

How do I establish paternity in Illinois?

This blog has posted previously about how unmarried couples may choose to resolve their issues with dividing property should they decide to split up.

As many Rockford, Illinois, residents probably know, unmarried couples who have lived together for a long time and who may even have a child together will also have parenting responsibilities to resolve as part of their split. Given the long-term nature of the relationship, a split will mean both parents and their children will have to go from all living together to figuring out how to carry on in two separate homes.

In this respect, it is important for both sides, but particularly dads, to remember that until paternity is established, the father has neither the legal right to have a relationship with the child nor the legal responsibility to support the child. This is so even if the couple has lived together for a long time and have worked hard to raise their children together.

There are different ways for unmarried couples to establish paternity in Illinois. The most formal way is for the parents to go to court and get a paternity decree, which will, generally speaking, also address parental responsibilities and child support.

In some cases, the administrative agency in charge of collecting child support can enter an order of paternity and start compelling a dad to pay support. In order to get custody or parenting time addressed, the father will have to go to court.

Perhaps the simplest way for parents to get paternity established is for both to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, in which case the father's name can be placed on the birth certificate promptly. However, this form only establishes paternity and does not set up either parental responsibilities or child support.

An attorney experienced with family law issues can help a mom or dad decide which of these options, if any, is best for them.

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