Paternity Rules and Rights in Illinois
By: M. Scott Gordon
A father’s legal right as the father of a child is known as paternity. Under Illinois law, a baby born to married parents is automatically presumed to be the child of the husband. If a husband suspects that his wife’s child is not his, he can sign a Denial of Paternity form. On the other hand, when a child is born to parents out of wedlock, the father is considered an alleged father, until he (or the mother) goes through the necessary steps to establish his paternity. Even in cases where a baby’s parents are living together or engaged to be married, the father must complete a legal process before his paternity will be considered official.
After paternity is established, a father’s name will be added to his child’s birth certificate. As an legal parent, a father will have certain rights and responsibilities, which parents who have not been legally recognized do not have. For example, parents can exercise control over the way that their children are raised, and they have a right to establish a close and continuing relationship with their children. Parents can also access important family medical information and other records. Responsibilities that come with being recognized as a child’s father include the obligation to pay child support if the child is not in the custody of the father. Establishing paternity builds a legal foundation for one of the most important relationships in the life of a child.
How to Establish Paternity
There are three principal ways to for a father to establish his paternity. First, and most simply, both parents could choose to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. If an alleged father signs this form, he still retains the option to withdraw his acknowledgement by completing another form called a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. However, if either a mother or a father wishes to rescind paternity, she or he must do so within 60 days. After this limit has been reached, voluntary acknowledgements can only be challenged for a very good (and limited) reasons, such as the occurrence of fraud, duress, or a mistake of fact.
The second method of establishing paternity is through an administrative process, which is often appropriate for more complex family circumstances. In this process, Illinois Child Support Services can issue an Administrative Paternity Order, or a local family law judge can enter an Order of Paternity.
If a mother and an alleged father disagree about the paternity of her child, the mother can seek to establish paternity by involving Child Support Services or the Courts. If either parent does not wish to cooperate with administrative procedures, paternity can be established or refuted through the court system instead. Going to Court may be required anyways, because the administrative process can not address matters of custody or visitation. The mother and alleged father will attend a court hearing and testify before a family law judge. The judge will order a paternity test to be carried out, and confirmed fathers may be obligated to cover the costs of genetic testing.
Seek Advice and Counsel Today
If you are being faced with a paternity issue, an experienced Chicago family lawyer can help make your rights and responsibilities clear. M. Scott Gordon & Associates will stand beside you and fight for your best interests. Contact our office today at for a free consultation on your paternity case.