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When a child is born to two people who are married, in a civil union, or who were married or in a civil union within 300 days prior in the state of Illinois, those two people are legally presumed to be that child’s parents, even if that is not necessarily true. A child’s legal parents are required to provide for the child’s well-being, including providing for their financial needs. If the parents ever get divorced, the father has a legal right to decision-making responsibilities and parenting time, as well as an obligation to pay monthly child support. If the father finds out that he is not the father of the child, he can file to disprove the paternity of the child, which may relieve him of his parental responsibilities.

Disproving Paternity While Married

If the father is married when the child is born, the legal relationship is automatically established when the child is born. While this can be a convenience, it also means that the father is forced to take legal action to disprove the paternity of the child if the child is not his or her biological child. Genetic testing is used to determine whether or not a child is biologically related to an alleged father and is typically ordered by the court when a person files to have paternity disproven. Once the father becomes aware of the fact that he is not the child’s biological father, he must take immediate action, or the judge could deny his petition to disprove paternity.


paternity-test-DNAIn the state of Illinois, a man is only legally presumed to be the father of a child if the mother was married or in a civil union with him when the child was born or within 300 days before the child was born. If the mother was not married when the child was born, the man she names as the father of the child is then referred to as the alleged father. That man will only become the legal father after one of three things happens:

  • Both parents complete and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form when or soon after the child is born;
  • An administrative paternity order is entered into by a child support agency; or
  • An order of paternity has been entered in court by a judge.

If the father contests the paternity of the child, the mother will then have to file a paternity suit that seeks to establish a parent-child relationship between the father and the child. Once you enter into a paternity suit, the judge will more-than-likely order the mother, the alleged father and the child to submit to genetic testing.

Understanding Genetic Testing


Posted on in Paternity

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois child support lawyer,When a child is born, it is automatically known who the child’s mother is--this is not the case for the child’s father. In Illinois, if a couple is not married or in a civil union when the child is born, the father is not legally considered the father of the child and his name cannot be added to the birth certificate until paternity is established. The only time there is a legal presumption of paternity is if the mother and the father of the child were married or in a civil union at the time of the child’s birth, or were married within 300 days before the child was born. Establishing paternity is important for both the parents of the child and the child itself.

The Importance of Determining Paternity

When a child’s paternity is in question, the father does not have any legal rights when it comes to the child. In order for a father to have rights to parenting time or parenting decisions, like decisions about the child’s healthcare or education, paternity must be established for the child.

Illinois custody attorney, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer,When a child custody decision must be made by the court, one of the first jobs is to determine who is and is not a legal parent. A few years ago, the Illinois legislature completed a massive rewrite of the Illinois Parentage Act to better clarify who in a relationship has a parental claim to any children that are part of the union in question.

What the Courts Look At

While the courts and child advocate representatives are required to make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the children in question, other factors may impact who is awarded custody and who earns child visitation rights once a relationship has ended. This is where stipulations set forth in the Illinois Parentage Act spell out that which is to be considered. In the case of determining a relationship between a child and a woman claiming to be the mother, the following scenarios are considered:
  • The woman gave birth to the child, EXCEPT in cases that involve a valid contract of surrogacy.
  • A complete and valid adoption.
  • Custody following completion of a valid surrogacy contract.
  • A previous court judgment of the woman’s parentage.
  • A previously stipulated acknowledgment of the woman’s parentage.
When determining a man’s claim of parentage, the scenarios considered are similar in nature, but with one obvious exception.
  • A legal and voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, unless successfully challenged and rescinded.
  • An unrebutted presumption of parenthood.
  • A previous court decision acknowledging the man’s parentage.
  • Completion of a valid adoption.
  • Custody following execution and completion of a legally binding surrogacy contract.
The Illinois Parentage Act guides the process of determining a parent-child relationship. It further authorizes genetic testing, establishes the procedures regarding parents of a child created using means of assisted reproduction and identifies who is obliged in matters of child support.

Rely on an Experienced Illinois Child Custody Attorney for Proven Help

When ongoing custody and questions of visitation are at stake, parents would rather not leave these matters to chance. Seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable DuPage County child custody lawyer will allow you the representation necessary to fight for a fair child custody agreement. The Law Offices of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., are aggressive advocates for our clients, using all the resources available to pursue a fair and favorable outcome. Do not allow your custody case to proceed without qualified representation. Call our offices today at 630-409-8184 to schedule a consultation.


guardian ad litem, children, DuPage County Child Custody AttorneyWhen you are involved in a dispute over child custody or other concerns related to your children, it can be difficult to maintain objectivity, especially if the relationship between you and the other party is not ideal. Divorce situations are especially prone to acrimony and contentiousness, and unfortunately, the best interests of the child can be somewhat lost among the myriad of other considerations. A court-appointed attorney known as a guardian ad litem, however, can help refocus the proceedings on the child’s well-being, thanks to provisions contained in Illinois law.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Unlike other types of guardianship, such as those covered by the Illinois Probate Act, which provide far-reaching authority over another person’s interests for an indefinite period of time, the guardian ad litem, or GAL, is appointed for a specified proceeding. In fact, the Latin phrase “ad litem” translates to English as “for the suit.” While GALs may serve similar purposes in other areas of law, they are most commonly utilized in family law situations on behalf of a child’s interests. In Illinois, a GAL is required to be a licensed attorney, properly trained and qualified to serve in such a capacity.


paternity, Illinois law, DuPage County Personal Injury AttorneyIn Illinois, an unmarried father must verify or prove his paternity to become his child's legal father. Legal paternity entitles a man to seek custody of and visitation with his child. Among other rights, it also entitles the father to add his name to the child's birth certificate. Establishment of paternity additionally allows a mother to seek child support from her child's father. All of these rights are guaranteed in the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984.

Until a man officially establishes his paternity, he is considered to be his child's “alleged father.” Married couples do not need to establish their child's paternity – when a child is born to married parents, it is assumed that the mother's husband is her child's father. This is also true if the mother was married at the time of conception, but divorced before her child was born.

A man who is not the father of his wife's child may sign a Denial of Paternity form, which relieves him of any financial and legal obligations to the child. When this happens, the child's mother and biological father must usually sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, or other methods for establishing paternity may be pursued.


paternity test, Illinois paternity laws, Illinois family law attorneyFor whatever the reason, your quest for establishing paternity is both a personal and legal right awarded to those residing in Illinois under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (750 ILCS 45). The law establishes this action for both married and unmarried parents and is established by presumption, consent or judicial determination. The quest to determine paternity can be initiated by the natural mother, a father presuming he is the child’s father or in some instances when the child is requesting clarification of paternity.

According to Illinois Legal Aid, an agency dedicated to assisting Illinois residents with legal guidance, paternity is defined as the relationship between a father and his child. Once legal paternity has been established, the father is entitled to rights as well as responsibility for the child, often including visitation rights, custody and child support.

For an Illinois father to establish paternity, only one of the following need apply:


 Illinois child custody laws, Illinois family law attorney, paternity lawsuit, Determining paternity of a child born out of wedlock is legally important not only for both parents, but for the child as well. For a mother, determining the paternity of a child is crucial in order to seek legal recourse for back payments or non-payments of child support. For a father of a child born to unmarried parents, determining paternity is necessary to secure visitation and parental rights. Yet determining paternity is also important for the child — not only for psychological reasons, but for financial planning and medical reasons as well. With the advent of DNA testing, determining the paternity of a child may seem relatively commonplace, but a surprising number of people with children born to unmarried parents fail to obtain a legally viable order of paternity.

According to the Child Support Services of Illinois, there are three ways that a parent can establish paternity of the child. The first, and most simple, is for both parents to complete, sign, and have witnessed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. The second is for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to file an Administrative Paternity Order, and the third is a court-ordered Order of Paternity. The latter likely proceeds when there is a dispute in paternity and one or both parents denied the claim of the other.

In Illinois, the mother’s legal husband at the time of birth is automatically and legally listed as the child’s father, regardless of whether or not he is the birth father. In the event that a mother has a child while she is married to someone who is not the child’s birth father, both she and the biological father would have to sign a Denial of Paternity when the baby is born. It can be signed at witnessed at the hospital. If neither the Denial of Paternity nor the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity are signed, the mother’s current husband is, “by law, the child’s legal father and his name must be put on the birth certification,” according to the Child Support Services of Illinois.


child custody, divorce, parenting time, visitation, paternity, evaluator, guardian ad litemIf you are engaged in a divorce case where child custody is being determined, you may have an evaluator appointed for the case. These individuals tend to be appointed in cases where parenting time, paternity, guardianship, or child custody are the primary issues. The court will use evaluators in these scenarios to assist with a final decision.

How you communicate with the evaluator can have an impact on your case, which is why it’s important to be aware of your interaction with this individual. You can be more informed by working with your divorce attorney in advance to understand the purposes of an evaluator appointment and how these meetings typically unfold. Your personal attorney is not involved in the evaluation process, but he or she can present you with important information about preparing for your own meetings with this individual. By knowing what evaluators look for and how they arrive at decision, you will feel more confident about your interaction and be able to work towards your family goals in an effective manner. You may be asked to provide references to an evaluator, for example. Working with your attorney beforehand can help you pinpoint references that could aid in your case so that you have your ducks in a row if the evaluator asks. Being organized and prepared can go a long way towards increasing your confidence and ensuring that your interaction goes smoothly. You should always think carefully before sending emails or making phone calls to an evaluator. Speaking with your attorney about the best way to work with such a professional is a good approach. If you are entering a divorce case or discussing modified parenting time, you need an attorney who can help prepare you for working with an evaluator. Contact an Illinois family law attorney today to learn more.

paternity IMAGECustody disputes and arguments over parental rights are often complicated and difficult family law battles. The challenges may be particularly difficult when the child is born outside of a traditional marriage.

 Custody & Relocation

For example, a recent case involving a custody battle between Olympic Skier, Bode Miller and his short-lived girlfriend, Sara McKenna, has shed light on the rights of pregnant women to relocate outside of the jurisdiction of where the father is domiciled. After a short-term romance between Miller and McKenna, McKenna found out she was pregnant but had plans to relocate to New York to attend Columbia University. Miller, who lived in California, filed a declaration of his paternity and petitioned to establish custody rights in San Diego before the birth of their son.

 A family court referee in San Diego, California ruled that McKenna’s behavior was “reprehensible” and though she was not charged with “abducting” the child, the Court felt that McKenna had fled to New York because it was a more sympathetic jurisdiction. Miller, in a ruling by the San Diego Family Court, received physical custody of their son. This has led to an onslaught by women’s rights organizations attesting that this is an inherent restriction on pregnant women’s constitutionally-protected liberty, and a threat to pregnant women’s autonomy rights. The First Department, New York’s Appellate Division, in a five-judge ruling on November 14, 2013, agreed and reversed the previous ruling made in San Diego’s family court, citing that the ruling was a violation of McKenna’s basic rights. It also concluded that New York had jurisdiction over the proceedings. The judge who ruled in San Diego, however, has not yet relinquished jurisdiction to New York, and a jurisdiction battle has ensued between the two states.  Family Law Complexities

With many “non-traditional” households, it is becoming increasingly important for parents to legally protect themselves in the face of custody and parental disputes.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that as of 2012, 40.7 percent of births were to unmarried women.

 There are also complexities for unmarried men who fathered children finding themselves on the losing end of a custody battle, sometimes paying for child support without visitation rights. There is a legal presumption that married men are the father to the child that is born to their spouse; unmarried men, however, do not receive the same benefit. Unmarried men must establish paternity, either at the time of the child’s birth by filling out the baby’s birth certificate or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage or Paternity (VAP). The VAP is a consent form that acknowledges that the unmarried man is the biological father to the child. Paternity testing may be necessary in the case of an extramarital affair or any confusion as to the identity of the father. Once paternity has been established, the father may file a court order to receive custody or visitation rights. In Illinois, pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), a court, in order to evaluate the claim, must first determine if it has jurisdiction over the issue. As the Bode Miller case highlights, this may be difficult if the mother and child are not living in Illinois. Generally fathers, even if they have been legally-designated as the father, still must petition a court to establish custody rights, and are at a considerable disadvantage; unless the mother is unfit to raise the child, court judges presume that it is within the child’s best interest to remain with the mother. In most cases, legally-designated fathers should petition for joint or shared custody, or allow the mother to maintain sole custody with visitation rights. Ultimately, even if the father has not petitioned for custody or visitation rights from the Court, he is still required to pay child support. In Illinois, a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income (based on the number of children shared) must be given to the custodial parent. The extent of the rights of the unmarried man who has fathered a child depends largely on how assertive he is in petitioning for his custodial rights. Though Courts generally presume the mother to be the best custodial parent for the child, the legally designated father is not without his rights and should petition for them. Ideally, and in the best interest of the child, both the father and mother should discuss and come to an agreement about the type of family and living situation that they would like to have. This, however, does not always have an easy solution, especially when both parents do not have plans to remain geographically close to each other. An experienced DuPage Child Custody Attorney may be able to provide the support necessary to come to an amendable custody and visitation arrangement between the two parties. Please contact us today for any further information about child custody and visitation rights.
The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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