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The importance of establishing paternity in Illinois

For a variety of reasons, it is important that it is known and verified who a child's father is in Illinois. Paternity establishes the connection between child and father. Determining paternity is especially important for unmarried couples at the time the baby was born. If this is the case, then the person who is believed to be the father is known as the alleged father. The alleged father's name cannot be placed on the child's birth certificate until there has been a legal determination as to who the biological father is. If, however, the parents are married at the time of the child's birth or conception, there will be a presumption that the husband or former husband is the father and he will be legally viewed as such.

Paternity can be established in three different ways. If both parents fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, this will establish paternity. This form must be completed, signed and dated or witnessed. The state of Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services' Child Support Services can issue an Administrative Paternity Order to establish who the legal father is. Finally, a judge can issue an Order of Paternity. For parents who are unmarried, there is eligibility to establish paternity for free in the state.

Having a legally recognized father is key because it will make certain that the father and child will have a relationship; the father's name will be on the birth certificate; both parents will have their rights protected; there will be access to medical information; and the child will receive child support, medical care and other benefits.

Paternity can be an area of dispute regardless of the circumstances. Those who are concerned about family legal issues surrounding paternity need to understand their rights as well as the laws in the state. For help with any issue related to paternity, the first call that can be made is to an experienced attorney to make sure that a father's rights are protected and it is known who the legal father of a child is.

Source: childsupportillinois.com, "Paternity Information You Should Know," accessed on Oct. 27, 2015

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