HomeBlogChild CustodyPaternity & ParentageOutlining the Process of Chicago Paternity Cases for Unmarried Couples

Outlining the Process of Chicago Paternity Cases for Unmarried Couples

Chicago, often called the Windy City, is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant lifestyle. But like any other major city, Chicago has its share of legal matters that its residents may encounter, and one such issue is paternity cases when the parents are not married. These cases can be complex and emotionally challenging, but understanding the legal process and your rights is crucial for all parties involved.

The key aspects of paternity cases in Chicago, when parents are not married, includes why establishing paternity is important, the legal process involved, and the rights and responsibilities of both parents.

Establishing paternity, or legal fatherhood, is important for several reasons:

1. Child Support: Once paternity is established, the biological father also becomes legally responsible for financially supporting the child. This ensures that the child has access to the financial resources they need for their well-being.

2. Child Custody and Visitation, which is now known in Illinois as Parental Responsibilities: Determining paternity also opens the door for both parents to have legal rights regarding child custody and visitation, which is now known in Illinois as Parental Responsibilities which includes both decison-making and parenting time allocations for each parent, which is then set forth in a court-ordered Allocation Judgment of Parental Responsibilities. This allows the child to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents.

3. Healthcare and Insurance: Paternity can impact the child’s eligibility for benefits such as health insurance, social security, and inheritance rights.

4. Emotional Benefits: Knowing one’s biological father can be emotionally significant for a child. It helps provide a sense of identity and can contribute positively to their self-esteem and overall well-being.

Legal Process of Establishing Paternity in Chicago

1. Voluntary Acknowledgment: The simplest way to establish paternity in Chicago is through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. Both parents can sign this form only at the hospital when the child is born. Once signed, it legally recognizes the biological father as the child’s legal father.

2. Genetic Testing: If one parent disputes paternity or if there are uncertainties about the father’s identity, genetic testing may be ordered by the court. DNA testing is highly accurate and can conclusively determine paternity.

3. Court Petition: If parents cannot agree on paternity, either party can file a petition with the court to establish paternity. This often involves legal representation, genetic testing and a court hearing.

When paternity is established in Chicago, both parents have specific rights and responsibilities:

Parental Responsibilities:

1. Parenting Time: Both parents have the right to spend time with their child, and a parenting plan will outline visitation schedules.

2. Decision-Making: Both parents typically share in decision-making regarding the child’s welfare, including education, healthcare, extracurricular and religious upbringing.  If co-parenting is not possible in regards to decision-making then one party can be appointed as the sole decision-maker for one or more issue.

3. Child Support: The non-custodial parent (usually the one who does not have primary physical custody) is typically responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent.  However, Illinois now uses the statutory calculation of the Income Shares Model and takes many factors into consideration, including the income of both parties and overnights of each parent annually.

Paternity cases in Chicago, when parents are not married, can be emotionally charged and legally complex. However, establishing paternity is essential for the well-being of the child, as it ensures that they receive financial support, have access to both parents, and are eligible for important benefits.  If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney, such as Jennifer Ward of Ward Family Law, LLC, who can guide you through the legal process and help protect your rights and the best interests of your child. Ultimately, the goal should be to provide a stable and loving environment for the child, regardless of the parents’ marital status.  Reach out to us today at 312-803-5838 or via email at jward@wardfamilylawchicago.con to schedule your initial consultation.



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