a father with his child, child supportIn Illinois, unwed fathers seeking paternal rights must first establish legal paternity. A child support attorney Chicago who knows state laws can address concerns about paternity, visitation, custody, and child support.

Paternal Rights in Illinois

Unwed fathers who want paternal rights in Illinois must first go through a legal process to establish paternity. Unwed mothers who want to collect child support from single fathers must prove paternity to the court. Once paternity is established and legally recognized by Illinois courts, child support payments can be put in place. Illinois law presumes paternity if:

  • The child’s natural mother and father were married at the time of conception
  • The child’s natural mother and father marry after the child is born, and he is named on the birth certificate as the father (with his consent)
  • The child’s natural mother and father have signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or other acknowledgment of parentage approved by Illinois law

The easiest way for unwed fathers to establish legal paternity is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born. Illinois law requires both parents to sign the form in front of a witness who is at least 18 years old, and the witness must also sign the form. If either parent wants to rescind the acknowledgment, he/she must submit a rescission form to the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services within 60 days of signing the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Once the 60-day period has passed, paternity must be challenged in court.

Child Support and Paternity

After legal paternity is established, Illinois courts will evaluate the father’s financial situation to establish child support payments through the court system or a child support attorney Chicago. Establishing legal paternity will give the child legal rights as an heir to the father’s estate. Advantages to the child include coverage under the father’s health care benefits, access to the father’s medical records for health reasons, the right to the father’s Social Security death or disability benefits, and certain rights during probate.

Unwed fathers who establish legal paternity gain certain tax advantages, as well more rights regarding parenting time and visitation. In cases where the birth mother wants to give the child up for adoption, legal paternity allows the father to contest the adoption. If the mother becomes seriously ill or dies, the father can apply for custody of the child.