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How to Determine Paternity in IL

How to Determine Paternity in IL and Why it is Important

When a child is conceived and born while a woman is married, Illinois law presumes that her spouse is the paternal father. However, if the woman is not married, the man is the alleged father and has to legally establish paternity. In order to determine paternity in IL, this can be done in three ways. The woman and man can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, Child Support Services can enter an administrative order, or a judge can submit an Order of Paternity.

When Child Support Services uses the administrative process to determine paternity, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) interviews the mother to have her sign paternity-related documents. HFS also interviews the man believed to be the father with the goal of seeing whether he will acknowledge paternity voluntarily or if a paternity test is needed.

For an Order of Paternity, the judge may require a paternity test. This genetic test compares a child's, mother's and alleged father's DNA to determine if the man is the biological dad. The test usually involves collecting a sample from each person's cheek with a cotton swab and sending the samples to a genetics lab. HFS can help the mother and alleged father schedule genetic tests and fill out the proper forms.

In cases where the mother needs help providing financial and health support for her child, she may seek to prove the paternity of an alleged father. This could give the mother and child access for family medical records. It could also help the mother secure other benefits for the child, including Social Security and inheritance. Establishing paternity secures the child's right to a relationship with the legal father as well.

Source: Illinois Child Support, "Paternity Information You Should Know", August 20, 2014

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