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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article we will be providing a brief overview of Illinois Paternity Laws as well as discussing any updates to Paternity Laws in Illinois, which includes addressing the topics of:  

  • What is Paternity?
  • Ways of Establishing Paternity
  • Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage (VAP)
  • DNA Testing
  • Establishing Paternity through Court
  • Getting a Father’s Name on the Birth Certificate
  • Paternity Leave
  • Updates to Illinois Paternity Laws

This article is intended to be an overview on the current Illinois Paternity laws and their applications. For a more in depth look at some of these areas of law, please follow the links contained throughout this article.  

What is Paternity?

Paternity is the legal term used in identifying the father of a child. Essentially, an action to establish paternity is a father seeking to legally recognize and acknowledge that a child is his offspring and entitled to the legal rights and protections involved in a parent-child relationship. To learn more about establishing parentage, please see our article Establishing Paternity.

Ways of Establishing Paternity

Illinois allows for Paternity to be established in three ways. First, if the child is born to a married woman, the child is presumed to be the child of the husband without a court finding to the contrary. Second, the parties can each sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage related to the Minor Child. Third, one of the parties may request that the Court or appropriate administrative agency enter an order which establishes parentage of the Minor Child.  

Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage (VAP)

A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage/Paternity (VAP) is a document which allows unmarried partners to establish the parental rights to the child for both parents. A mother’s rights vest a birth but if unwed parents would like for a father to have his rights established voluntarily, they need to execute the VAP. For more information on what a VAP is please see our existing article. article. For any additional questions on the topic, you can also visit our article on Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage.

DNA Testing

If you are unsure about who the father of the child is, it is best not to sign a VAP until you have definitively determined who the father is. The way to determine the true father of the child is through genetic or DNA testing. DNA tests can be fairly quick and noninvasive, with the testing facility simply swabbing the check of the purported father and the child. At home DNA tests may be able to confirm paternity to resolve this issue between the parties but it is unlikely that these at home DNA tests will be allowed in Court. If you are seeking DNA testing, it is far better to use a lab or testing facility. Once you are satisfied with the results of the testing, you can execute a VAP to establish the father-child relationship. For some more information on DNA testing, please refer to our other article on Paternity Laws Explained.

Establishing Paternity through Court

In a situation where one of the parties is not willing to acknowledge the parentage of the father, it may be necessary to start a court case or administrative proceeding to have the Court establish paternity. If you find that the other party is refusing to allow for a DNA test or to establish parenting time and child support, the Court can and will get involved to ensure that those issues are handled. Check out our article on establishing your rights as the father for more information.

Getting a Father’s Name on the Birth Certificate

Once paternity has been established by one of the methods indicated above, the parents of the child can have the birth certificate modified to include the father on that document. If paternity was established after the original birth certificate was recorded, it is important to take the step to modify the certificate to include the father’s name to solidify the rights for both the child and father moving forward. To learn more about the rights gained by being on the child’s birth certificate, please consult our article addressing those rights.

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave is not provided for or guaranteed by the laws of Illinois. There are certain employers that will provide for paternity leave. Additionally, employees of State government/agencies and federal government/agencies are eligible for up to 4 weeks of paternity leave. While the State does not provide for paternity leave, father’s whose employers are subject to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are likely eligible to apply for short term disability benefits which can provide a portion of their salary for up to 12 weeks to care for their new child and/or spouse.  

Updates to Illinois Paternity Laws

Illinois underwent a significant change to parenting laws in 2015. Since the major changes made in 2015, there have not been large scale changes to paternity laws on a statutory level. Based on the relative age of the parenting law modifications, there are new issues being presented to the Illinois higher courts each session. The changes in 2015 moved Illinois away from the traditional custody and sole parenting arrangements to a more concerted effort at joint parenting time arrangements and decision making. Please see our previous update article to learn more about issues involving allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time.

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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