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When a child is born to unmarried parents in Illinois, it is important to establish legal paternity. There are a few different ways to do so, including having both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) or establishing a man’s parentage through an administrative or judicial order, often with the support of a DNA test. However, regardless of how paternity is established, there are other, related legal issues that must often be resolved.
Establishing paternity with a VAP is often a straightforward process that can be completed by simply completing and filing a form. However, it can be more complicated when there are other men who have a possible legal claim of fatherhood. Under Illinois law, a man is presumed to be the legal father of a child if he was married to the mother at the time of birth, or if he had been married to the mother within 300 days of the birth.
However, there are many cases in which a presumed father is not the biological father. If a man other than the one signing the VAP is presumed to be the father, he will need to sign a denial of parentage in order for the VAP to go into effect. The man may do so willingly, but if not, it may be necessary for both men to undergo DNA testing in order to reach a resolution on the child’s parentage.
Whenever legal paternity is established, the court will also issue a child support order ensuring that both parents contribute to the child’s expenses. As in the case of a divorce, child support obligations for unmarried parents are calculated based on the two parents’ combined incomes, and the parent with a greater income will usually be ordered to make payments to the other.
Parenting time and parental responsibilities are not always at issue in Illinois paternity cases, particularly if the legal father is not interested in exercising these rights. However, if the man does want to be involved in the child’s life, he can petition the court for the allocation of parental responsibilities. In this case, both parents can work together to create a parenting plan to file with the court. In a contested case, the court can decide on the terms that meet the child’s best interests.
Resolving all of the legal issues associated with paternity can be challenging, but at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio, we can provide the legal guidance and representation you need throughout your case. With our help, you can reach a resolution that meets your child’s needs and protects your own interests. To schedule a free consultation, contact our DuPage County family law attorneys today at 630-920-8855.