Parentage FAQ

Paternity can play a large role in various facets of family law, from child custody to child support to parenting time. When a man is recognized as the father of a child (paternity isn’t always based on a blood test or birth certificate alone), he can be held responsible for supporting that child in whatever way is deemed necessary by the courts. Read on to learn more about establishing paternity and how the process works in Illinois.

What’s the Legal Importance of Paternity?

Parentage means, “the identity and origin of one’s parents.” In family law, parentage refers largely to paternity and establishing paternity. There are two main processes used when it comes to establishing paternity:

  • Voluntarily Assumed Paternity: Voluntarily assumed paternity is when the parentage of a child is assumed based on the situation in which they were born, such as the child was born to a married couple or born to an unmarried couple who never marry but sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.
  • Involuntary Paternity: When the mother of a child or the state brings a paternity lawsuit against the potential father, this is known as involuntary paternity. The potential father will likely be required to take a DNA test. If a genetic blood test reveals him to be the father, he’ll be held accountable for child support and other responsibilities associated with childcare.

How Long Does a Paternity Test Take?

Laboratories can typically process the results of a DNA paternity test within two to three days after the samples are received. In some cases, such as when a name is being added to a child’s birth certificate, the process can be expedited for faster results.

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity?

In Illinois, a paternity suit can be brought against the alleged father to establish paternity until the child turns 20 years old. If a mother isn’t willing to admit a man is the father of her child or if the father suspects she’ll put the child up for adoption, he can petition the court to declare him the legal father. The state in which the child lives is usually the state that has jurisdiction over paternity, although it can be the state of the child’s conception or birth.

After the petition is filed, the mother will be issued a copy of the court papers and will need to reply. The court will order a DNA test if the mother opposes the claim, and the case’s outcome will depend on the results of the test.

Legal vs. Non-Legal Paternity Tests

There are two types of paternity tests: legal and non-legal. The results of a legal test are admissible in court and can be used in a family legal case because the test was completed by professionals in a controlled environment. Non-legal tests cannot be used as evidence in court, because they’re more private and involve the use of samples collected behind closed doors. These at-home tests aren’t conducted at a hospital or a lab, which makes their results unreliable at best.

Receive Expert Representation from Conniff Law Offices

Whether you’re bringing a paternity suit against a probable father, or wish to prove paternity to prevent your child from being put up for adoption, the family law experts at Conniff Law Offices are here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation at our Chicago or Oak Park location and learn more about your next steps.

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