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How is paternity established?

Every family is unique and sometimes they don't always form in a traditional way.
For example, when a married couple has a baby, the newborn is legally presumed to be the child of both the mother and the father. But if the parents are unmarried when they have a child, that child does not automatically have a formal relationship with the father.
By establishing paternity, a mother can enforce child support, and sometimes, even reunite estranged fathers with their children.

First of all, what is paternity?

Paternity is a legal relationship between a father and his child

Illinois Paternity Law

Paternity cases in Illinois are subject to and follow the same guidelines as the majority of the laws that govern family law/divorce matters such as child support and custody or allocation of parental responsibilities.

Paternity Lawyer - Faye M. Lyon - Family Legal Services

Proving Paternity in Illinois

Presumed Father Requirements

The simplest way for a father to establish legal paternity, if not presumed, is by a birth certificate or registering on the State of Illinois Putative Father Registry or signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity at Court.


The Illinois Parentage Act provides that a man is the "presumed" father of the child if any of the following facts are true:

He is married to the mother when the child is born

He was married or in a civil union with the mother, but the marriage was terminated within 300 days prior ro the birth of the child

The child was born during or within 300 days of an invalid marriage or civil union into which he and the mother entered in compliance with the law

He married or entered into a civil union with the mother after the child's birth, and he is listed as the child's father on the child's birth certificate

Cases where the Petitioner in a paternity action has to bear the burden of proving paternity or absence of paternity by having to provide evidence in greater quantities, having the comfort and guidance of an experienced paternity attorney, such as Attorney Faye M. Lyon, will be your greatest ally.

Things to know about paternity

The statute of limitations for the mother and child for paternity suits to establish the existence of the father-child relationship can be filed until the child turns 20 years old.  However, for the father, it must be filed within 2 years of learning of the existence of the child.  If the father has signed the birth certificate, the punitive father registry or an Acknowledgment of Paternity, paternity does not need to be established, however, suit will still have to be filed to establish his rights as a father for parenting time. 

The Court or any party to the paternity case may request DNA testing.  If the party whom DNA testing is being requested from refuses to submit to the test, the Court will likely decide the case against them.

Child custody (now known as allocation of parental responsibilities) in a paternity case is subject to the same standards as a divorce case.  The rights of unmarried parents are the same as those who were previously married, only that the best interests of the child will be considered.

"Thank you for all you’ve done for me ... (plus all my other friends). Keeping you ... in my prayers."

– Larry

Need help with a paternity case?

Attorney Faye M. Lyon has worked with many families regarding sensitive situations.
Schedule a consult with Rockford's leading family law attorney

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