When a child is born to unmarried parents, the father faces several hurdles related to his rights under Illinois law. A common misconception is that the execution of a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) will grant visitation and custody rights to the father. The fact is, a VAP does not provide any protection and only serves at a basic tool for child support to be proposed.
Most fathers do not realize that under Illinois law, no visitation or custody rights can be established unless an order is entered with the court declaring that a biological relationship exists between the father and the child. This is when the parents should seek additional orders pertaining to support, visitation and custody arrangements.
Paternity Laws in Illinois
A paternity case in Illinois is subject to a large portion of the laws that guide the custody issues in divorce cases. Matters such as child support, legal custody, and visitation follow the same set of rules that are applicable in a divorce.
The same laws that guide the enforcement and modification of child support and custody issues also guide paternity cases. Additionally, if the parties involved are unable to agree on the issues of custody and visitation early on in the case, the court will likely order them to attend mediation.
Paternity Tests in Illinois
It does not matter if the father or the mother proposes a paternity case for a child born to unmarried parents. The court will order a DNA test to establish the paternity of the child at a reduced cost to the parents. It is highly advisable to acquire a DNA test before entering into an order that establishes custody, support, and paternity. It is very rare that a court in Illinois will overturn a previous order that has consented to paternity, even in a case where the alleged father discovers at a later date that he may not in fact be the biological father of the child.
Child Support and Paternity
Child support issues exist for fathers in a paternity case. If the father wants to set up child support for his child, he first has to prove paternity with the court. On the other hand, if the mother wants child support from the child?s father, parentage only needs to be proven by a VAP or the signature of the father on the baby?s birth certificate.
Paternity and Retroactive Child Support
In a paternity action, it is important to know that when the child is less than 2 years of age it is highly probable that the court will order the father to pay retroactive child support. These retroactive payments will date all the way back to the time when the baby was born plus the hospital expenses of the birth of that child.
Even though there could be a 2-year limit on obtaining reimbursement for the expenses of the birth, a paternity case (whether brought by the father or the mother) can be brought to court any time until 2 years after the child reaches the age of majority. This means that the child can be 20 years old, and a paternity action can be filed to determine support or paternity.
Anyone facing a potential paternity action should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced Illinois family law attorney as soon as possible.
CONTACT Sherer Law Offices for a legal consultation today.