Determining the identity of a child’s father in Illinois can be vitally important to the child’s and both parents’ financial and mental health. Illinois law makes both parents responsible for the child’s welfare, and thus, a reliable identification of the father is essential to ensuring that he knows the identity of his child and makes the legally required contribution to the child’s future.
Some aspects of paternity are simple. A child born to a married couple is presumed to be the natural child of both parents. If the parents are not married but both are present at the child’s birth, they can execute a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). That document is then filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If the father is not present at the birth, the parents may later sign a VAP in front of a person who is not named on the VAP form and mail the certificate to the State Heath and Family Services -Administrative Coordination Unit for verification and filing.
If the parents are not certain about the identity of the father, or if the putative father denies paternity, the father’s identity will be established by the court through a DNA matching test. The reliability of modern DNA tests in which DNA from the mother, the child and the putative father are compared, provide an accurate test to determine the identity of the father.
Once the identity of the child’s father has been determined using one or more of the methods outlined above, the father is legally responsible for contributing to the child’s welfare, just as though the parents had dissolved their marriage through a conventional divorce. The mother can use the court order determining paternity as the basis for seeking child support or a court order regulating such issues as custody and visitation.
Anyone who is in doubt about the paternity of their child or where the father has denied paternity may wish to consult an experienced family attorney for advice on available remedies.