a parent with children, child supportParentage is the legal term for the relationship between parents and children. Many factors can complicate establishing parentage. Feelings the parents have for one another, their relationship status, and their willingness to be a parent can all cause conflicts. When a child’s parents are not married, parentage must be established before support and custody issues can be addressed. If a father does not voluntarily acknowledge paternity or a woman is married to someone but pregnant with another man’s child, establishing parentage may require a legal ruling by the court.

The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015

The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 is used to establish parent-child relationships. The 2015 Act is similar to the prior Illinois parentage law but gender-neutral. Both parents now have the same protection, regardless of their gender. It states that the parent-child relationship, along with child support obligations, extends equally to both parents. The provisions of the 2015 Act apply equally regardless of the relationship status of the child’s parents. Presumptions of parentage that were based on the other person’s relationship with the child’s mother are now phrased as “person” rather than the word “man”. Insofar as practicable, the Act is applicable even if one or both parents are a minor.

Rebutting presumptions of parentage

The previous Illinois Parentage Act provided two conclusive presumptions of parentage and two rebuttable presumptions of parentage. Under the 2015 Act, all four presumptions of parentage are rebuttable. Presumptions of parentage may only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. A family law attorney can advise individuals involved in parentage cases on what constitutes “clear and convincing evidence.”

The court may disallow genetic testing

Another significant change in the 2015 Act is that the court may deny a motion by one party who is seeking genetic testing if the court deems it is in the best interest of the child to do so. There are 10 factors listed in the 2015 Act for deciding whether the court may disallow genetic testing. The court may disallow DNA tests if rebutting presumed parentage will remove a child from his or her only known parent. In situations where genetic experts disagree on the findings of genetic testing, parentage may be determined based on other evidence of paternity.