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Illinois Paternity Laws

Establishing paternity in Illinois involves determining the legal fatherhood of a child through methods like genetic testing and court proceedings. This process is governed by the Illinois Statutes Chapter 750, focusing on family law specifics in the state.

Caring Child

Initiating a Paternity Case

Paternity cases in Illinois are typically initiated when either party disputes the identity of the child's father or when one party seeks child support from the other.

Paternity for Custody

If an unwed father seeks custody of a child, it is necessary to establish paternity first. This is often done through genetic testing as part of a paternity case. The court relies on the test results as evidence to determine the biological relationship between the alleged father and the child per the Illinois Parentage Act.

Paternity for Child Support

When an individual wants to claim child support from the other parent, establishing paternity is crucial. Once paternity is proven, the legally recognized father becomes financially responsible for child support payments as outlined in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Additionally, the father may also seek custody and visitation rights.

Testing Lab

The Paternity Process

The following section outlines the general process involved in a contested paternity case. It is important to note that if both parties agree on paternity, a formal paternity case may not be necessary.
For detailed information on the process and subsequent child custody determinations, book a consultation with Sterling Lawyers.

Step 1


To initiate a paternity case, it is essential to file a petition to determine parentage with the circuit court per the Illinois Parentage Act. If needed, an attorney can assist in preparing and submitting the necessary documents.

Step 2

Court Hearing

After filing the case, the court schedules a hearing that requires the presence of both parties. During the hearing, the court informs the potential father about his rights and responsibilities under the Illinois Parentage Act. If the alleged father desires genetic testing to establish paternity, he can request it at this stage.

Step 3

Paternity Test

To establish paternity, the court requires DNA test results with at least 99.9% probability of paternity. At-home tests are not admissible evidence. Instead, the court orders accredited labs to conduct the test per the Illinois Parentage Act.

Step 4

Child Custody

Once paternity is established, the next step involves addressing child custody matters per the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Parties involved in the case collaborate to create a parenting plan, including arrangements for visitation, child placement, and child support.

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Key Components of Paternity in Illinois

Besides the information presented here, you might have additional questions regarding paternity and child custody. The following points provide answers to some common inquiries and direct you to further resources. For personalized advice related to your specific case, book a consultation with Sterling Lawyers.

Establishing Paternity

There are four primary methods of establishing paternity in Illinois:

  • Voluntary acknowledgment: The father can sign an acknowledgment of paternity, typically at the hospital when the child is born. Both parents must sign to establish paternity through this method.
  • Marital presumption: If married to the mother, the husband is presumed to be the legal father.
  • Court ruling: The court can issue an order establishing paternity after reviewing evidence like genetic test results.
  • Genetic testing: DNA tests proving at least a 99.9% probability of paternity are admissible evidence in court.

Importance of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity ensures that the legal father has certain rights and responsibilities concerning the child, including:

  • Custody and visitation rights
  • The right to make decisions regarding the child's welfare
  • The responsibility to provide financial child support
  • Access to the child's medical records and history

Custody Determination

Illinois child custody laws outline how the court determines custody. By default, the court assumes that both parents will share custody unless there are factors indicating that one parent is unfit to care for the child.

Placement Schedules

Placement refers to the specific time the child spends with each parent. There are numerous placement schedules available, and the most suitable one depends on the unique circumstances and needs of the parties involved.

Child Support

Child support is typically paid by one parent to another to address income disparities or differences in placement time. The purpose of child support is to ensure the child's well-being and provide for their needs. Our child support calculator can help estimate the appropriate amount of support.

Child Custody

Determining child custody arrangements involves addressing various logistical considerations. Our goal is to provide you with the necessary preparation, and having legal representation can streamline the process. Ultimately, the court's decisions prioritize the best interests of the child by considering factors like:

  • The parents' wishes and parenting abilities
  • The child's relationship with each parent
  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved

Frequently Asked Questions

How can paternity of a child be established in Illinois?

Paternity can be established through voluntary acknowledgment at the time of birth or through a court action if not done initially.

How much does a paternity test cost in Illinois?

The cost of a paternity test varies depending on the county and the approved providers. Generally, it can be under $50 for each party. In cases of financial hardship, the court may cover the fees. However, if a party is financially capable, they may be required to reimburse the county for the test.

What does "paternity post adjudication" mean in Illinois?

“Paternity post adjudication” refers to the period after the legal establishment of paternity. It signifies that the father now has legal rights and can pursue custody and visitation rights.

Understanding Illinois paternity laws is crucial for individuals involved in paternity cases. It is recommended to consult with an experienced family law attorney to navigate the legal process effectively and ensure the best interests of the child are protected.

What happens once paternity is established?

After establishing paternity, the case transitions into a child custody case. Parents work out arrangements for custody, visitation, and potential child support.

Is it mandatory to include the father's name on the birth certificate in Illinois?

The father's name is not required on the birth certificate if there is uncertainty about paternity. If paternity is established later, the father can request to have his name added retroactively.
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