When Illinois couples who are unmarried have babies, parentage may later have to be determined if the couples break up and there are custody and child support disputes. An unmarried man is not automatically presumed to be the father of a baby. Instead, his paternity must be legally established for child support to be ordered or for the man to gain custody or visitation rights.
One of the ways that paternity may be established by the courts is DNA testing. Either the mother or the alleged father may file a petition with the court asking for DNA testing. The court may then issue an order for both the alleged father and the child to submit DNA samples for testing. The samples are normally taken by using cotton swabs to wipe the insides of the cheeks. If the DNA tests come back positive, the man will be found to be the legal father. Child support may then be ordered, and the father can seek to establish his parental rights.
Unmarried men may also establish paternity by legally acknowledging that they are the fathers. They may file acknowledgements signed by both the fathers and the mothers with the state. They may also acknowledge that the children are theirs by signing the birth certificates when the children are born.
Once paternity is established, a custodial parent may seek a child support order. Men whose paternity has been established may also file petitions for custody and visitation rights so that they can build meaningful relationships with their children. People who need to establish paternity for child support and child custody purposes might want to meet with experienced family law attorneys and learn more about the procedures.