No matter whether you are contesting paternity or trying to establish it, knowing how the state of Illinois recognizes paternity is important since learning whether you are or are not the father of a child can help you decide how to move forward with your life. If you know for certain that you sired a child, you understand the possible array of obligations, such as child support, that you may need to fulfill.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) explains how the state automatically presumes paternity. A person in Illinois is assumed by law to be a father of a child if the father is married or in a civil union with the mother within specified time frames. Basically, if the marriage or civil union is in effect at the time of the child’s birth or within a three hundred day time period prior to the birth, the law recognizes the man as the father.

For men in the state that lack this relationship with the mother, paternity has to be proactively established. This can be accomplished in three different ways. A simple route to establishing someone as a legal father is for both parents to fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form while at the hospital that facilitated the child’s birth. This form is to be filed with Illinois HFS. If not at the hospital, this form can be later signed at other locations such as a county clerk’s office or a child support office.

Another way paternity is established is for the Illinois HFS to enter an Administrative Paternity Order. Outside of the HFS, paternity can also be established by a court. An Illinois judge, after weighing the evidence that a person is the father of a child, can enter an Order of Paternity. These two options are generally employed if a person is contesting an allegation of paternity or there is some discord between the parents over the matter.

If parentage is contested, legal matters can become complicated. A professional family law attorney can help lead you through these complex legal questions as you contest or try to establish paternity. Do not consider this article as legal counsel for your particular situation. Only read it for your personal educational benefit.