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Establishing paternity

Illinois parents may want to know more about paternity laws and how paternity is established in various circumstances. When a child is born to an unmarried couple, the father is not considered the legal father, and his name cannot be added to the birth certificate. He is considered to be the "alleged father" until paternity is established.

If a mother is married when she conceives a child or when her child is born, her husband is presumed by law to be the child's father. Establishing paternity requires the completion of a form by both parents, an administrative order by the state or an order of paternity from a judge. Help is available for single parents who wish to establish paternity.

In a case where the mother is married but the father is not her husband, paternity can be established in a two-step process. First, the mother and her husband sign a Denial of Paternity form. Then the mother and biological father sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Important reasons for establishing paternity include the child's right to a father-child relationship, a father's name on the birth certificate, access to family medical information and securing the child's rights to present and future benefits.

Establishing paternity can get quite complicated when there is a dispute or when the parents are minors. If there is uncertainty concerning the identity of the biological father, genetic testing may be required that compares the child's DNA to that of the mother and alleged father. Although the tests are pretty conclusive, they can be rebutted in certain instances. Anyone needing help with paternity or child custody and support issues may want to seek the advice of an attorney who has experience in family law.

Source: Illinois Child Support Services, "Paternity Information You Should Know", August 26, 2014

Source: Illinois Child Support Services, "Paternity Information You Should Know", August 26, 2014

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