The Importance of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity means much more than just child support for a single parent. Whether or not the child has a legally-recognized father can make a huge difference in the child’s life—for his or whole life, not only childhood. Paternity does not necessarily imply that the father is present in the child’s life on a daily basis. It only means that the father is legally and fiscally responsible for the child. In addition, it also allows the child access to the father’s portion of federal services, such as Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits, and medical support. For this reason, even if another man is more emotionally a child’s father (and has not legally adopted the child), it is imperative that paternity is established as soon as possible.
Presumption of Parentage
It is important to note that, in Illinois, if a couple is married, paternity is presumed. That is, a married couple does not have to legally establish paternity—the man’s name will be on the child’s birth certificate. If a couple has divorced during pregnancy, the ex-husband will still be legally presumed to be the child’s father. Should you be interested in repudiating this assumption, it is crucial to speak with a legal professional quickly, as you may have only a limited window in which to act.
There are three ways in the state of Illinois that paternity can be established if the parents of the child were not married at the time of conception or the time of birth. The first is that both parents have signed—with a witness present—a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. The second is that a Paternity Order is entered by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The third is by way of a Paternity Order issued in court by a judge. The latter is frequently the case if a DNA test is required to establish a biological relationship; it is not necessarily an instance in which paternity was voluntarily claimed. Again, however, it is not only for the sake of the mother that this is important; it is more for the child that this is crucial than anyone else.
Responsible Legal Guidance
If you or someone you know has questions about establishing paternity, why it is important, or how to proceed, contact an experienced Will County family law attorney. At Kezy & Associates, we are equipped to help you with your most sensitive legal concerns. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.