location 1580 N. Northwest Highway, Suite 12, Park Ridge, IL 60068
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George Skuros
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phone 312-884-1222

Chicago Paternity Attorney

Des Plaines IL paternity lawyer

Chicago Family Lawyer for Establishing Legal Parentage in Cook County

Parents play an important role in providing for a child's needs, and whenever possible, courts throughout Illinois and the United States attempt to ensure that both parents contribute their fair share financially. However, this can be difficult when a child is born to unwed parents, as the identity of the child's legal father may be unclear. Establishing legal paternity helps to clarify this issue and ensure the child's financial support, and in many cases, it is also an important first step to securing a father's parental rights.

Establishing paternity often comes with legal complications, and it is important to work with an attorney who can help you understand and resolve them. At The Law Offices of George J. Skuros, we strive to educate and inform our clients about the legal process so they know what to expect and can work toward a fair, attainable outcome. We have more than 30 years of family law experience, and we will put it to use in your paternity case.

Why Establish Legal Paternity in Illinois?

One of the primary reasons to legally establish paternity is to ensure that both of a child's parents are obligated to contribute to child support. When a child has no legal father, a single mother may find herself responsible for the entire cost of raising the child, but establishing legal paternity can provide substantial relief from this burden. Once paternity is established, a child support order can be issued in which each parent must contribute an equitable amount based on the Illinois income shares calculation. Fathers may also wish to establish paternity to ensure that their child has access to other financial resources, like health and life insurance coverage, disability benefits, and inheritance in the case of intestacy.

It is also important for fathers to establish paternity if they want to exercise their parental rights regarding the child. In Illinois, a child's legal father has the right to be notified of adoption proceedings involving the child and to be given the opportunity to consent or contest the adoption. After being adjudicated as the child's legal father, a man can also petition, on his own or with the child's mother, for the allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities in the child's best interests.

What Methods Does Illinois Offer for Establishing Paternity?

In Illinois, the legal paternity of a child born to unmarried parents can be established in a number of different ways. The best option in your case may depend on the nature of the relationship between you and your child's other parent. For example:

  • Paternity may be established by presumption if your marriage to the other parent ended within 300 days prior to the child's birth, or if you marry the other parent after the child's birth and both of you consent to be named as parents on the birth certificate.
  • Paternity may be established voluntarily if both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) and file it with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). Before doing so, both parents should be certain that the man is the child's biological father. If there is a presumption of parentage for another man, it will be necessary to obtain a Denial of Parentage from him to submit with your VAP.
  • Paternity may be established by an administrative order from HFS, usually initiated by a petition from a mother seeking to secure child support from the father. In such cases, the alleged father will likely be obligated to submit to genetic testing to determine biological paternity.
  • Paternity may be established by a judicial order in an Illinois court after either parent initiates the process with a petition. The court may order genetic testing and consider other evidence to determine whether a man should be adjudicated as the child's legal father.

Paternity FAQs


What Is Parentage?

Answer: “Parentage” refers to the legal relationship between a child and parent. All children have two biological parents. However, being a biological parent does not necessarily mean that a person is also recognized as the child’s legal parent. In the past, you might have heard the term “paternity” used to refer to establishing a legal relationship between a father and his child. However, Illinois now recognizes that this term is outdated and not nearly inclusive enough. Many children are born into same-sex unions, or parent-child relationships may be established through the use of a surrogate, sperm donor, or adoption. It is important to establish legal parentage so that it is clear who the child’s legal parents are, regardless of biology.


How Is the Paternity of a Child Established?

Answer: When it is a question of identifying the child’s biological father, there are multiple ways to establish this fact. If parents are married when the child was born or shortly before birth, it is presumed that the mother’s spouse or ex-spouse is the child’s parent. Unmarried fathers may accept legal paternity by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Either the mother or the presumed father may also begin court proceedings to establish paternity. If court proceedings begin, and the parties both agree that they are the child’s biological parents, the court can establish paternity right away. However, if there is a dispute, the court is likely to order a DNA test. The results will be used to decide paternity.


How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Illinois?

Answer: It is usually best to establish paternity as soon as possible after a person learns that they are the biological parent of a child. However, in Illinois, a father can establish paternity at any time after the child is born.


How Do I Get a Court-Ordered Paternity Test?

Answer: Either the suspected father or the mother can initiate paternity proceedings. If either parent is not willing to voluntarily acknowledge that the man involved is the father, the court will then usually order a paternity DNA test.


How Can I Be Recognized as My Child’s Father in Illinois?

Answer: The steps that may be taken to establish legal parentage will depend on your path to fatherhood, and your options may also be affect by how the mother responds. If you were married to the mother, you do not need to take further action, and you should be listed on your child’s birth certificate. If you were not married to the mother, you can both sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. You also have the option of starting a court case to establish that you are the biological father of your child. A DNA test may be used if the mother denies or questions your paternity.

If you are in a same-sex relationship, establishing paternity can be a little more complicated. However, Illinois has come a long way in the legal recognition of LGBTQ+ families. You may wish to consult an attorney in these situations, as you may need to take additional steps, such as formally adopting the child.

Contact a North Shore Legal Parentage Lawyer

No matter the method you are using to establish paternity, we can provide legal guidance and representation in an administrative or judicial hearing or trial. Contact us today at 312-884-1222 to request a free consultation. We serve clients in Chicago, the North Shore, and the Northwest Suburbs, including Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Inverness, Mount Prospect, and surrounding areas throughout Cook County.

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