Divorce and Family Law
Paternity & Parentage Cases
The experienced paternity lawyers at Bruning & Associates, P.C. have represented hundreds of unmarried mothers and unmarried fathers in paternity or parentage cases. We work diligently to help single parents establish parental rights (custody), parenting time (visitation), inheritance rights for their children, and/or to resolve child support issues.
The skilled lawyers at Bruning & Associates PC have substantial education, training, experience, and expertise to handle your paternity and parentage case. Please contact our firm today to set up a no-cost consultation with an Illinois paternity and parentage lawyer who can provide the details you need to understand the laws. Some background information is also useful.
Options for Establishing Paternity
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP)
When parents agree on the child’s parentage, they can complete and sign an Illinois Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. You can obtain the essential documentation at the hospital when delivering the baby. Both parents must review and sign the VAP, and there must be a witness at least 18 years old to verify. This method of establishing paternity is often the simplest since the baby will leave the hospital with his or her name on the birth certificate. Plus, a member of the facility’s staff can act as a neutral witness.
Parents can also complete and sign the VAP after the child’s birth, at which point the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate. Keep in mind that the VAP does not address allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time – i.e., child custody and visitation.
The mother, a pregnant woman, and the presumed father all have the standing to file a petition to initiate a paternity action. The case proceeds in court, and the trial is held before the judge; there is no jury trial for parentage suits. The most important evidence in the case will be matching the DNA of the child and the alleged biological father. If test results prove parentage, the judge will sign the order legally establishing paternity.
Administrative Paternity Order
In some cases, the state of Illinois has an interest in establishing parentage because children deserve to receive financial support from both parents.
While these options for establishing paternity may seem straightforward, it is critical to get help from an Illinois paternity and parentage attorney. Your rights as a parent are at stake, and you can trust our team at Bruning & Associates, P.C. to protect them.
The Impact of Establishing Parentage
The costs of raising a child can be astronomical, and Illinois law mandates that both parents have a duty to financially contribute. When the mother has a VAP, court order establishing paternity, or administrative order, she has the power to enforce child support obligations. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services establishes child support guidelines.
Unless there are legal grounds through parentage, a father does not have the right to participate in the important decision-making related to raising the child. After establishing paternity, he can go to court to request the allocation of parental responsibilities and develop a relationship with the child.
Visitation is another parental right that can only be exercised once there is legal recognition of the father. While the mother may have residential custody, the father can request and enforce parenting time through court action.
While these are the primary considerations in paternity cases, there are additional reasons to determine parentage outside of a marriage relationship. They include:
- The child’s right to the father’s inheritance.
- Access to family medical information that affects the child’s health.
- The child’s rights to Social Security and other public benefits.
Legal Help with Paternity Issues
If you believe you are the biological father of a child born into a marriage, you have the standing to rebut the legal presumption. You could be in the position to file a paternity lawsuit and will need assistance with the process to ensure you are recognized.
After establishing paternity, a father must still go through legal proceedings to exercise custody and visitation rights. Courts decide these issues on the basis of the child’s best interests, so we can assist with developing a legal strategy.
Child support is usually deducted from the obligor’s wages, but some individuals may attempt to conceal employment. Our team will aggressively pursue the payor, as government officials are limited in terms of resources.
Trust Your Case to Our Illinois Paternity and Parentage Attorneys
Serving paternity and parentage clients in northern Illinois, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, McHenry County, Lake County, Will County, Boone County, DeKalb County, Kendall County, LaSalle County, and Winnebago County.