When a baby is born to a married couple, there is usually no doubt that the husband is the father of that child. However, many couples have children outside of marriage, whether intentionally or not. If two unmarried people are in a romantic relationship and have a child together, the man is not automatically considered the legal father of the child even if the man and woman live together. The father’s name cannot be put on the birth certificate until paternity is established.
Legal Orders of Paternity
Paternity is defined under Illinois law as the legal relationship between a father and his child. It is important to know that paternity means the father is legally responsible for that child and is entitled to certain rights as a father. Paternity can be established legally by three different ways in Illinois:
Both parents complete and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form. This form must be witnessed, and it should be filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS).
An Administrative Paternity Order is established and entered by DHFS Child Support Services.
An Order of Paternity is established and entered in a judicial court.
Legally identifying paternity is especially important when determining the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, regardless of whether the parents are married or not. It also ensures that a child will receive child support from both parents.
In paternity cases, genetic testing such as a DNA test may be used to confirm the identity of the child’s biological father. These tests take DNA samples from the child and the alleged parent to determine whether the man is the biological father of the child. A blood test called a Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) or a Buccal scrape are typically performed. A swab is rubbed against the inside of the man’s cheek to obtain a DNA sample. The accuracy of testing the cheek cells is the same as from a blood sample.
If DNA patterns of the suspected father and the child do not match on two or more probes, then the man is not the biological father. If the DNA patterns for both parents and the child match on every single DNA probe, there is a 99.9 percent likelihood of paternity. These types of tests are typically used when establishing paternity through an administrative order or a judicial court hearing.
Other methods to determine paternity also exist, and they may involve ABO blood group typing, proteins and enzymes analysis, or human leukocyte antigens. Some of the latest techniques for paternity testing are using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). New forms of paternity testing can now be done while the child is still in the womb by drawing blood from the mother or after birth by taking a sample from the umbilical cord.
Contact a Cook County Paternity Lawyer
If you or someone you know is trying to confirm the paternity of a child, you should seek legal counsel to ensure that the child’s and parents’ rights are protected. At the law firm of Wakenight and Associates, P.C., our attorneys are well versed in the laws regarding paternity, child custody, and child support. Our experienced Oak Park family law attorneys will guide you through the legal process of establishing paternity and help you reach an outcome to your case that protects your child’s best interests. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 708-480-9651.