How Can a Paternity Test Protect a Father’s Rights?
By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC
A paternity test may be essential to protect the father’s rights when parents of minor children who are dating and are going through a breakup, or when a person learns he is the father of a child but no longer has a relationship with the child’s mother. In situations where a father’s legal parenthood or parentage is not in question, a paternity test might be superfluous, but there are many scenarios in which the father can protect his rights as a parent by requesting a paternity test.
In short, in any child custody situation in which the father is only the alleged father (as the law defines it) and not the acknowledged or adjudicated father, it is time to speak with a Chicago area child custody attorney about arranging for a paternity test.
We want to provide you with more information about how a paternity test can protect a father’s rights in Illinois.
Paternity Test Can Show a Father Has Rights to Parental Responsibilities
In many family situations involving minor children, the alleged father may not have proof that he is the biological father of the children. The Illinois Parentage Act defines an alleged father as “a man who alleges himself to be, or is alleged to be, the biological father or a possible biological father of a child, but whose paternity has not been established.” An alleged father is a term that is distinct from a “presumed” or “acknowledged” father since the latter designations afford a father the ability to seek parental responsibilities according to Illinois law.
If you are only the alleged father of the child, you will not be eligible for child custody. What does this mean in practical terms? Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), parents can share parental responsibilities—which include significant decision-making responsibilities for the child and parenting time.
However, in order for the father to be eligible for parental responsibilities, he will need to be able to show that he has rights to parental responsibilities as one of the parents of the child. When paternity is in question, or when the father is only the alleged father of the child, he will need to prove paternity before he can exercise his rights to have parental responsibilities.
Genetic Testing Can Give a Father the Right to Parental Responsibilities Under Illinois Law
In most situations where an alleged father wants parental rights and wants to have parental responsibilities, he will need to file a petition to establish parentage (or paternity). In order to establish paternity, the court will likely order genetic testing. According to the Illinois Parentage Act, if the genetic testing shows that “there is at least a 99.9 percent probability of paternity,” then the alleged father is presumed to be the father and can ask the court to allocate parental responsibilities to him.
When there is a child custody dispute and the parents cannot reach an agreement about how to allocate parental responsibilities themselves through a parenting plan, the court will allocate parental responsibilities in an allocation judgment, relying on the “best interests of the child” standard. It is Illinois public policy that both parents—including the mother and the presumed father—will share parental responsibilities so that the child can have a relationship with both parents unless there is a clear reason to limit parental responsibilities.
Contact a Chicago Fathers’ Rights Lawyer
If you have questions about child custody and paternity, one of our Chicago fathers’ rights lawyers can help. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for assistance.