There is rarely any question about a mother’s biological relationship with a child. However, the role of a father can be a bit less clear. Illinois has a law that applies a presumption of paternity when a married woman has a child.
However, when an unmarried woman has a child, there is often confusion about the rights of the father and what steps he will need to take to have the same rights as the child’s other parent. Illinois actually gives fathers two different means of establishing paternity and, ultimately being recognized as the lawful parent of a child.
Through cooperation with the mother
Most paternity matters involve the parents cooperating to fill out paperwork. A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form will affirm that the father is the biological child and can lead to the state adding his name to the birth certificate. Some parents fill this form out at the hospital right after the birth of a child, and other times they may fill out paperwork together at any point while the child is still a minor.
Through testing and court intervention
Sometimes, the father of a child is in a bad position because the mother does not want to acknowledge him. In such scenarios, the family court can help. A man can fill out paperwork asking to help him establish paternity, at which point, the Illinois family courts can order the mother to present herself and the child for genetic testing. If the test affirms the man’s relationship with the child, the state can then add his name to the birth certificate even without the cooperation of the mother.
Either process is necessary for those who want to play an active role in the lives of their children. Until a father establishes with the state that he is the father of a child, he will not have a right to request visitation or parenting time. While many fathers can work out informal arrangements with the mother of their child, they are at the mercy of her whims without a formal court order granting them certain parental rights and responsibilities.
Learning more about Illinois paternity rules can help fathers establish their legal right to a relationship with their children. Working with an experienced legal professional can help to provide clarity.