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establishing paternity in Illinois, Elmhurst divorce lawyersDivorcing parents have much to arrange when it comes times to handling the dissolution of marriage. Everything from parenting time (visitation) and the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) need to be addressed. All of these aspects of divorce are important for the well-being of your child and are crucial in protecting the best interests of your entire family. For unwed parents or parents facing special circumstances during a time of separation, the issue of paternity arises, presenting them with some important decisions to make.

Establishing Paternity

Paternity is typically established in one of two ways: Through the judicial court process or the Child Support Services administrative process. An interview is conducted and both the mother and the alleged father are contacted via telephone, by mail, or in person to discuss the circumstances that surround the relationship and its ties to the child they share. The alleged father may either voluntarily acknowledge paternity or be asked to submit to genetic testing to determine paternity of the child. Should the alleged father not attend the interview, Child Support Services will, by default, declare him to be the legal father.

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fathers rights, unmarried, illinois child custody lawyerIt is common in today’s world for couples to have children out of wedlock. There is no longer, or at least less so, a stigma about putting kids before marriage. However, the problem arises when (if) the relationship ends. The mother is presumed to the parent of the child by virtue of having given birth to the child. A man is presumed to be the father of a child if he and the mother are or have been married to each other, if the father signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP), and/or the father is on the child’s birth certificate. What rights does the father or mother have if the relationship ends and there was no marriage?

Parentage matters are governed by multiple statutes. First, the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (750 ILCS 45/1 et seq). This is different from the Illinois Parentage Act (750 ILCS 40/1 et seq.) which deals with artificial insemination. The Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 is usually referred to as the “Paternity Act.”

Second, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/101 et seq.) plays a significant role in the parentage actions. For example, 750 ILCS 5/607 is the Visitation statute that governs the standard used in the Paternity Act for setting visitation for a unwed parent. A non-custodial parent is ENTITLED to reasonable visitation unless a court finds that visitation between a child and parent would “endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral OR emotional health. For this reason, the majority of parents are entitled to visitation with their child. Reasonable visitation is discretionary and case specific.

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