Chicago Paternity Lawyers
Helping Mothers & Fathers Establish Paternity in Chicago
Paternity is the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child born to unmarried parents. For a man who believes he is the father of a child, paternity must be legally established as a prerequisite to obtaining visitation rights, as well as joint or sole custody of a child. For the mother, paternity must be legally established in order for her to receive child support.
These issues are governed by the Illinois Parentage Act in conjunction with several provisions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Whether you are an unmarried mother or father seeking assistance with child support, custody, or visitation issues, the lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. are well-qualified to handle your paternity case.
Discuss your case with our Chicago paternity attorneys today by calling (312) 487-2795.
Why It Is Important to Establish Paternity
Roughly half of all children born in the United States are born to unmarried parents. Though single parenthood is both common and accepted, that still does not alleviate the sadness and angst many parents experience when faced with the possibility that they may be raising their child alone or with limited support (emotionally and financially) from the other parent.
When uncertainty about paternity exists, there are three different ways to establish paternity in Illinois:
- If the couple is married when the child is born, the husband is legally presumed to be the father
- Establishing parentage by consent through a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP)
- Filing a Petition to Establish Parentage with the court, which may require a DNA test
Whether you are pursuing a paternity case as a mother or a father, the court will likely facilitate a DNA test to confirm who is the father of the child. It is highly recommended that you complete a DNA test before legally establishing paternity. Courts in Illinois are unlikely to overturn an existing paternity order even if the alleged father later finds out he may not be the biological father.
If a child is under two years old, a court has the right to order a biological father to pay retroactive child support to the mother. This child support covers the cost of raising the child up to that point plus birthing, hospital, and medical costs.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is a mutually signed, legally binding agreement that establishes paternity. There is a document that unmarried parents sign at the hospital called the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form that is necessary in order to put the father’s name on the birth certificate (the mother’s name is automatically put on the birth certificate).
A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity does not address issues of visitation, joint custody, or child support. Furthermore, it is important to note that it can be difficult to “undo” a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, so this form should not be signed unless the father is certain that the child is his. Being a father is a lifelong commitment, so this should not be taken lightly.
Filing a Petition to Establish Paternity
If a father did not sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and is not on the child’s birth certificate, then either parent may file a Petition to Establish Parentage to obtain a court order establishing that the alleged father is actually the father of the child. At this point, if there is any uncertainty in regards to the paternity of the child, either parent may request a DNA test, or the court may order one. After paternity is established, the court may establish child support and address visitation and any other issues.
Call (312) 487-2795 to Learn More About Your Options
Paternity cases can be extremely sensitive and emotional. Having a Chicago paternity lawyer by your side throughout the process can help ensure that your rights are protected and that the resolution is fair and favorable. At the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C., we are committed to representing our clients with respect and compassion because we understand that they may be going through a tough time. At the same time, we remain aggressive and vigilant to ensure that your case is handled effectively.
Call the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. at (312) 487-2795 for a FREE, 20-minute consultation.
They were thorough, thoughtful, respectful and always acted with my interests at heart.- Former Client
Jonathan and his team are everything you want in a lawyer.- BCT
I cannot stress enough how happy I was with their performance and I highly recommend that anyone with a Family Law matter have the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel represent them.- Richard
Jonathan is a great lawyer with great services and results- John
I highly recommend Jonathan and his firm for their professionalism, experience and for getting results!- Matt