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If you are a parent who needs to prove paternity but live in a different state, this article can give you a general idea of what steps are necessary to resolve the issue of paternity. Whether there is an out of state father who does not want to get involved with the child or a mom who lives in another state and is refusing to cooperate with the alleged father regarding parental rights, paternity can be a very complex matter. You should seek the help of an experienced Illinois family law attorney. Read on to get a general idea of how to prove paternity when the father lives out of state.  



Establishing Paternity in Illinois


In Illinois, paternity is presumed if a couple is married and they have a child during the marriage. Furthermore, if the mother was married or in a civil union for up to 300 days before the birth of a child, paternity is also presumed. If a couple who is not married has a child, specific steps can be taken to prove paternity for legal reasons.  

Father and daughter playing with toy car


Illinois Recognizes Three Methods For Proving Paternity:


Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity-the couple can complete and file what is referred to as a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. The voluntary acknowledgment of paternity can be found online, or the hospital where the child is born may be able to provide one. The voluntary acknowledgment of paternity legally establishes the biological father and child relationship when the parents are not married. The document must be signed and witnessed. After the document is correctly signed and witnessed, it has to be filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If the document is not filed with the Illinois HFS, it will not create the legal rights and responsibilities it is intended to.  


On the flip side, if a woman is married or has been in a marriage or civil union within 300 days before the birth, a Denial of Paternity document must be signed, witnessed, and filed along with the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.  


Administrative Paternity Order-an administrative paternity order is completed and filed by the Illinois Department of Child Support Services. The administrative paternity order means that the state is getting involved at this point. Typically, when a single mother asks the state to require that the child's father provide child support, the state will file an administrative order of paternity. The presumed father will be notified and allowed an opportunity to dispute the administrative order. Failure to act on the part of the putative father will result in a child support order being entered and then wage garnishment if necessary. Once this process is started, it can be challenging to overcome these orders without submitting them to genetic testing. The state child support agencies, including Illinois, have broad discretion to determine paternity and ask for a child support order. If you receive notice that the state has been asked to pursue child support and that the mother has told the state you are the father, deal with the issue immediately, do not ignore it.  


Judicial Order of Paternity-this is the longer court process but still an excellent method of determining paternity and child support obligations. Either the mother or the presumed father can start this legal process. A child is even legally entitled to start the process themselves. Typically, once a petition for paternity is filed, the court will have a hearing on it and order genetic testing, considering that is the most failsafe method of establishing paternity. A petition for paternity is filed in these types of cases because one party is resisting, and a court order for genetic testing is required. With an order for genetic testing, all parties are required by law to cooperate, and the child must also be tested to see if there is a genetic match.  


Once the court has had the opportunity to review the findings of the genetic testing and any other factors that may play a part in the matter, the court may find that the alleged father is the biological parent and enter an order of paternity. The order of paternity will legitimize certain rights and responsibilities for the father.  


What If The Father Lives Out Of State?


The big point of this article is, what if the father lives out of state? How do I establish paternity for child support and access to medical records that could affect my child? Sometimes, presumed fathers will move out of state in an attempt to avoid any financial responsibility. The alleged father thinks crossing a state line is akin to moving to a foreign country to avoid creditors. Nothing could be further from the truth. State child support agencies communicate with each other and assist in collecting child support. State courts give other state courts what is known as full faith and credit, which means that if an Illinois court enters a child support order. It is brought to the attention of, for example, a California court; the California court will do everything in its power to honor it. In other words, moving to another state will not protect someone from paying court-ordered child support. As you read above, if a mother goes to her state child support agency to enforce child support, the state can get an administrative paternity order to get child support.  

Dad kissing infants forehead

If the alleged father still chooses not to respond or fulfill his financial obligations, the states can garnish his wages, intercept tax returns, revoke his driver's license and even deny him a passport if the amount of back child support is high enough. It may take a long, but eventually, the state will force the alleged father to respond.  


If you do not want to wait for the state to handle it, you should consult with an experienced Illinois child support lawyer or family law lawyer. A reasonable Illinois family law attorney will be able to evaluate the information relevant to your case and will have strategies to find the father and establish paternity. Whatever state the presumed father resides in often has some form of an administrative agency that can assist with establishing paternity if necessary. The main issue is that service on the presumed father of any court documents will have to be correctly completed, which is something an experienced family law attorney will know how to accomplish.  


If the presumed father is serving overseas with the military, your attorney can work with your state agency and the military to ensure that the presumed father is properly served and submits to genetic testing. If the father is on active duty, the court will wait until he is no longer on active duty before entering any final order in the case unless the father agrees to allow it.  


Paternity Rights Once Established


Once paternity is established, the father will have specific legal responsibilities and rights. The father can ask the court to grant custody and physical placement. The child will be legally entitled to things like:  


  • Child support  
  • Medical insurance and life insurance  
  • Social Security benefits through the father if the father is deceased or disabled  
  • The right to inherit if the father passes away  



Illinois Child Support Laws



In Illinois, child support is determined by a statutory formula called the income shares method. The child support percentage is based on a calculation that considers each parent's net income. One of the parents will also be ordered to put the child on their health insurance. The child support can be paid on whatever schedule makes the most sense concerning the paying parent's paycheck schedule. If one parent resists paying child support, a wage garnishment order will be entered, and the amount will be deducted before the parent receives their check. For more information on paternity in regards to child support read our article,  Is a Paternity Test Required for Child Support?


So now you have a general idea of what to do if you are trying to prove paternity when the father lives out of state. You also have a good idea of what steps you will need to take to get help proving paternity. If the father is ducking you or avoiding dealing with the issue, you should speak to an experienced Illinois family law attorney who can evaluate your situation and start the process to prove paternity and ensure that financial obligations are met. While this article offers a streamlined explanation of paternity, paternity actions can be very complex, and you should seek the assistance of an attorney. If you are looking for help with your paternity matter, feel free to call O'Flaherty Law; we would be happy to help you.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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