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How can paternity be challenged in Illinois?

There are times in Illinois where a man is accused of being the father of a child but he believes he is not. There are also instances in which a couple is married but the alleged father has reason to believe that a child is not biologically his. According to Illinois law, an allegation that a man is the father of a child can be challenged. It is important to understand the legal procedure to formulate such a challenge before moving forward with it.

If there was a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and a subsequent denial, the challenge can only be lodged if there was fraud, duress or a material mistake of filing a verified petition, within two years of the date in which the acknowledgement or denial was made. The time in which the challenge was being made will not count in the two year window. When there is a verified complaint - also referred to as a petition - it must be filed in the particular county where the original proceeding was brought. An example is if there was a proceeding related to support. If there was not one, the filing must be made in the county in which the child resides.

Everyone who has signed the voluntary acknowledgement and any denial must be a party to the proceeding challenging the acknowledgement or the denial. The burden of proof will be on the party that is making the challenge. There must be clear and convincing evidence for the denial to be upheld. While the case is in progress, any support obligations will not be suspended. What that means is that if the court ordered child support, the parent who is challenging paternity must still make the payments until the case is settled.

Once the challenge is completed, the birth record of the child will be amended if there needs to be a change in the legal record of parentage. People who are in the midst of a dispute over paternity and meet the required criteria need to have a full understanding of state law regarding this issue. This can apply to unmarried couples as well as married couples. Speaking to an attorney experienced in cases related to paternity can be helpful in moving forward with issuing a challenge.

Source: Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, "Sec. 309. Procedure for challenge.," accessed on Mar. 1, 2016

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