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Parentage - Paternity

Parentage / Paternity in Illinois

The Rights and Duties of Mother and Father

One-third of the children born in the United States are born out of wedlock. Three-fourths of children of teenagers are born out of wedlock.  Illinois parentage law was comprehensively changed in 2016, based on the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015.

What significance is there in placing the father's name on the birth certificate?

If it is without the man's consent, it is of no significance. If it is with his consent it is evidence of paternity, but does not establish paternity.  On the other hand, the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage that often accompanies this birth certificate does have critical legal implications.  Keep in mind that the law states that the name of the father should not be entered without his consent.

Where the parents are in agreement is there a simplified procedure for establishing paternity?

Yes. This can be accomplished by the signing and witnessing of a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage. The voluntary acknowledgment must be signed by each parent and the signatures of each parent must be witnessed. The statement should also contain the social security numbers of the parents.

This voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be used as a basis for seeking a child support order without any further legal proceedings to establish paternity. This acknowledgment does not establish an obligation for child support. Child support can only be established by a court order or administrative order by the Illinois HFS.

Does the 2016 law change the required forms for a VAP?

Yes.  Due to the new Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, 750 ILCS 46/, the HFS 3416B, Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, HFS 3416D, Denial of Parentage and the HFS 3416E, Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and/or Denial of Parentage, were revised.  See:

But before signing any VAP, one should consult with a lawyer to understand the consequences of doing so.

What is the Putative Father Registry?

To keep from potentially forfeiting his parental rights, a father should register his claim for paternity within 30 days after the child's birth.  See:

May a father bring court proceedings for custody of the child?

Yes. There is no gender bias in favor of the mother. The allocation of parenting time and parental responsibilities are determined on what is in the best interest of the child.  The same underlying law generally applies regarding what had been referred to as custody — the provisions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Is a father of a child born out of wedlock entitled to “visitation”?

Yes. He may obtain a court order allocating to him parenting time.

How is paternity proved?

The usual method is by DNA testing. These test results can pinpoint if a man is a child's father with better than a 99 percent likelihood.  Paternity testing is now quick and relatively inexpensive.

How much child support will the court order?

For one child, 20% of the payor's net income. The term “net income” is defined by the statute. The courts seldom deviate from this. In addition, if the mother is employed outside of the home, the father is usually ordered to pay half of the daycare expenses for the child. The parent not allocated primary parenting time is also usually required to maintain health insurance for the child.

What if the mother wants to place the child for adoption?

If the identity of the father is known, he must consent to the adoption (unless he did not register with the Putative Father Registry within 30 days of the birth of the child) or grounds for unfitness, such as abandonment or desertion, must exist. If the identity of the father is not known, a “To Whom It May Concern” notice must be published in a newspaper.

What compensation may a mother receive if she places her child for adoption?

The mother's medical and hospital bills may be paid. In addition, the mother's reasonable living expenses (costs of lodging, food and clothing) from 120 days before the mother's delivery date to 60 days after the birth of the child may be paid. For the living expenses to be paid there must be a prior court order authorizing the payments.

Can the birth mother or birth parents select who will adopt the child?

Yes. Some attorneys including The Law Firm of Michael Olewinski and some adoption agencies engage in what is known as “open adoptions.” In an open adoption usually the birth parents will review written information about people who wish to adopt a child and make a selection on that basis, or they may choose to interview some of the applicants. This can be done on an anonymous, that is, first name basis, or there may be no anonymity.

I have heard about removal — what does it mean?”

“Removal,” as used in Illinois family law prior to 2016, had meant moving out-of-state with a child. The current term is relocation.  In 2016 the law changed to provide for relocation of children and the law became in essence more complex because there was one set of boundaries for the so called “collar counties” and another for counties outside the collar counties.  And there is the potential impact of many agreements that may have outlined standards under the previous law. It is critical to consult with a lawyer regarding any issue of relocating a significant distance from the other parent, such as more than 25 miles within the collar counties in order to understand your potential rights and obligations. 

I have primary residential custody of my non-marital child under a Joint Parenting Agreement. Does Illinois law prevent me from moving out-of-state with the child without permission of the court and the non-custodial parent if I want to move more than 25 miles from him?

Yes, if the court has entered an order for custody and visitation of the non-marital child (now known as a judgment allocating parenting responsibilities as generally outlined in a parenting plan.)


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