Serving Clients in DuPage County, Wheaton & Will County, IL
The issue of paternity often arises when a child is born to unmarried parents or when any father disputes parentage. For unmarried parents, paternity must be legally established before the mother can pursue child support from the father or the father can pursue child custody and visitation rights to a child. Whether you are an unmarried mother or father who needs to establish paternity or a married or unmarried father who believes a child is not yours, you can turn to Kazmar Feely for experienced legal help.
Our team of family lawyers has been in practice together since 2004 and has a combined 50+ years of experience in Illinois family law. We can help you navigate the process of determining paternity as well as seeking or contesting child support and child custody and visitation. Our firm is dedicated 100 percent to this area of law which has given us comprehensive knowledge of the legal processes involved and the court system that handles these matters.
Unmarried mothers have no child support rights until they establish the paternity of the father. Unmarried fathers of children born to them have no custodial rights unless they are established as well. While these rights are often of the utmost importance to parents, paternity is equally important for the child. It legalizes this important relationship, which gives the child emotional and financial stability, the right to inheritances and benefits, a family medical history, and potentially an extended family.
Unmarried parents can establish paternity at the time of a child’s birth by signing a Voluntary Acknowledge of Paternity. When both parents sign this, the father’s name is added to the child’s birth certificate. On the other hand, if the mother is married to someone else while giving birth to another man’s child, the spouses can sign a Voluntary Denial of Paternity and the biological parents can sign the Voluntary Acknowledge of Paternity.
Absent the above, an unmarried mother or father or the man financially supporting the child can file a petition to establish paternity with the court. Paternity is then determined by DNA testing that is almost completely reliable.
Child Support & Custody under The Illinois Parentage Act
The Illinois Parentage Act sets the mechanism for establishing the parent-child relationship as well as addressing issues of support, custody, and parenting time for unmarried parents.
Child support is determined using the same standards that apply to divorcing couples under Illinois law. Unless an appropriate reason for deviation exists, the level of support will be determined by statutory guidelines. Under appropriate circumstances, the support amounts may exceed the actual demonstrated needs of the child since the goal is to provide the child with the same lifestyle that he or she would have enjoyed if the family remained intact.
Additionally, in actions brought within two years of a child’s birth, a court may order a father to pay the reasonable expenses incurred by the mother relating to her pregnancy and delivery of the child. The law also provides for an award of child support retroactive to the child’s birth after the court considers relevant factors. This may include the father’s prior knowledge of the child’s birth and the extent the mother previously sought his assistance in supporting the child.
In Illinois, custody and visitation rights for unmarried fathers are the same as those awarded to married fathers. A man who believes he is the father of a child can file a petition to have his paternity established by court order, securing the right to request custody of or visitation with the child.
Custody is based on what is the best interest of the child and the allocation of parenting rights and time will depend on numerous factors, including but not limited to: whether the parties can communicate and cooperate on matters regarding their child’s health, education, and religious upbringing; the wishes of the parents; the wishes of the child where appropriate; the health of all individuals involved; and the willingness of each parent to encourage a close relationship between the other parent and the child.
Why Choose Us?
With more than 50 years of combined experience in the matter of paternity, child support, and child custody, our team is well-versed in the laws relating to these issues, the factors that courts review in determining them, and how to present thoroughly-prepared cases to the court. Thus, we can help you navigate the legal process with professional assistance that will vastly improve the chances of achieving your desired results.