Reeder & Brown, P.C.



Attorneys Serving Joliet and Plainfield Explain How to Legally Establish Parentage

Under Illinois law (750 ILCS 46, effective January 1, 2016), parentage is automatically established when a child is born to legally married parents. When a child's mother and father are unmarried, paternity may need to be established through specific legal procedures. Either parent may initiate proceedings to establish the parentage of a child.

At the law offices of Reeder & Brown, P.C., we fully endorse the Illinois statute that declares that every child has the right to the physical, mental, emotional, and financial support of both parents. Whether you are a mother or father seeking to establish paternity of a child, our attorneys will ensure that you receive all the rights and benefits due to you in a paternity proceeding. With over 30 years of combined legal experience, we are fully versed in all family law issues related to paternity, including child support obligations, parental responsibilities, and parenting time.

Presumption of Paternity

A man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

  • He is married to the mother at the time of the child's birth.
  • He was married to the mother, and the child is born within 300 days of the parents' divorce or the termination of the marriage through death or annulment.
  • He marries the mother after the child's birth, and he gives his written consent to be named as the father on the child's birth certificate.

If it is later discovered that the presumed father is not, in fact, the child's biological father, the child or either parent may file an action to declare the non-existence of the father-child relationship. This action must be brought within two years of the discovery and before the child's 18th birthday.

How to Establish Paternity

There are three ways for unmarried parents to establish paternity for a child:

  1. Signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity document and filing it with the state.
  2. Filing a paternity action in court, which is officially termed a proceeding to adjudicate parentage.
  3. The issuance of an administrative paternity order, which may be put in place after parents work with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to determine the identity of a child's father.

The court has the authority to order DNA testing to prove paternity. The cost of DNA testing will either be paid by the party requesting it or split between the parties.

A proceeding to establish paternity may be started prior to the child's birth but may not be finalized until after the child is born.

Benefits of Establishing Legal Parentage

While a single woman may prefer to raise a child on her own without support or interference from the child's biological father, the child can benefit from paternity establishment in several ways:

  • Having the legal right to financial support from the father until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school.
  • Having the legal right to inherit from the father.
  • Having the legal right to claim Social Security survivor benefits if the father dies, as well as veteran's benefits or other types of benefits.
  • Having the legal right to obtain medical insurance coverage on the father's policy.
  • Having the opportunity to build a relationship with the father or members of the father's family in the future.
  • Having access to family medical history from both parents.

Joliet Paternity and Parentage Lawyers

The attorneys of Reeder & Brown, P.C. provide divorce, family law, and criminal defense services to clients throughout Will County, including the communities of Bolingbrook, Crest Hill, Joliet, Lockport, Plainfield, and Shorewood. Contact us at our Joliet law office by calling 815-885-5980 for a free consultation.

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