When an unmarried couple finds out that they are expecting a baby—and especially if it is a surprise—men are generally expected to “do the right thing” and to provide for the mother and the child. This is often the case even if the man and woman are not involved in a committed relationship. For many people, “doing the right thing” means voluntarily acknowledging paternity and accepting the responsibility of providing not only parental and emotional support for the child, but financial support as well. What happens, though, when a man voluntarily acknowledges paternity and becomes the legal father of a child to whom has no biological relationship?
Establishing legal paternity is a very serious matter. It does provide certain rights and responsibilities for legal father, but it is a very difficult determination to reverse. Once a there is a legally recognized relationship between a father and child, only a definitive DNA test, in most cases, is sufficient to void paternity.
Men are often afraid to ask for proof that a child is theirs, and they may be hesitant for number of reasons. They may be concerned about appearing uncaring or aloof, or deep down, they feel guilty about having to ask. Likewise, studies suggest women often provide the state with the name of an alleged father who is not the biological father for a number of reasons as well. Both scenarios can leave a man paying for child who is not actually his. Before signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, it is important to be absolutely sure that the child in question is yours because the impact can be severe if you are wrong.
Assume you have spent several years paying child support, only to discover later that there is the possibility that you are not the child’s biological father. The first thing to keep in mind is that the court is not obligated to order a DNA test if you and the child have established a strong parent-child relationship. For the sake of stability, the court could decide to the leave the situation as is. However, if you are not intimately involved in the child’s life, a DNA test could lead to the court voiding your paternity.
It may come as surprise to learn that such a decision will only affect the future. According to the law, you were considered the child’s legal father at the time, so you have no standing to request a refund of the child support payments you have made. Sadly, this holds true even if the determination of your paternity was based on the intentional actions of the mother. These factors make being certain about your biological relationship all the more important.
Legal Help for Child Support and Paternity Cases
If you have questions about legal paternity and child support in Illinois, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. We are equipped to provide not only answers but also responsible legal guidance that directly addresses your situation. Call 708-518-8200 for a free consultation at Kezy & Associates today.