The Department of Healthcare and Family Services Child Support Program provides all Illinois residents with child support services. These services allow custodial parents to legally establish paternity, locate the other parent, acquire health insurance for the child or children and collect payments on an established court order.
The Child Support Services Program cannot help parents get a divorce, change a visitation order, or obtain an order for the child's future college expenses. The program does not provide any legal advice whatsoever. Rather, the Child Support Program helps custodial parents get child support benefits from non-custodial parents.
For the purposes of child support, establishing paternity is vitally important. If the mother was married when the child was conceived or born, then the child is automatically presumed to be the child's legal father. However, if the mother was not married at the time of the child's conception or birth, then the father is referred to as the "alleged father" and legal paternity can only be legally established in a few ways.
Legal paternity can be established by having both parents complete and sign a Voluntary Acknowledge of Paternity form. The signing of the form must be witnessed. Alternatively, an Administrative Paternity Order can be entered by a state child support agency, which establishes paternity. An additional option involves seeking and receiving an order of paternity from a judge in a court of law.
In addition to making child support possible, having a father's paternity recognized has additional legal benefits for the child and the parents. When paternity is legally recognized, a father's rights are protected if the mother should die or is no longer able to care for the child. Additionally, the child can then be added to the father's health insurance plan and the child will be able to inherit from the father in the event of his death.