Northbrook, IL Paternity Lawyer

Parentage and Fathers' Rights Attorney Serving the North Shore

When a baby is born, it is almost always apparent who the mother is. Except in certain complicated surrogacy arrangements, whoever gives birth to the baby is legally the mother. Rarely does a biological mother need to go to court to prove her parentage. Biological fathers, on the other hand, are not always automatically considered legal fathers. Generally, a man is only presumed to be the father if he is married to the mother when a child is born or if the couple got divorced while the mother was pregnant. In fact, anyone who is married to the mother when she gives birth is presumed to be the child's other parent - even if the mother is married to a woman or another person who could not possibly be the biological father. However, if you were not married to the mother when your child was born, you will likely need to do a few things in order to make sure that you are also your child's legal parent.

Sucharski Law Firm LLC is experienced in representing fathers who are seeking parental rights. In many cases, establishing that you are the child's father is the first step toward pursuing shared custody. There are several ways this can be done, mostly depending on how willing to cooperate the mother is. You should know that if you are the biological father, this information is extremely likely to come out in court. Even if the mother wishes to avoid you, you can be declared the father over her objections if a DNA test shows that the baby is yours.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity

Parents who are together, but not legally married, often use this form to establish paternity as soon as their baby is born. Unmarried couples who have separated may also agree to acknowledge paternity. The hospital will have a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form on hand, and it can be signed by both parents right away. The father's name can then be added to the birth certificate. Divorced parents may or may not need to use this form, depending on the timing of their divorce and the birth of the child.

While it is convenient to use this form the day the baby comes, a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form can be used at any point during your baby's childhood. If you find out about your child when they are older, it is not too late to use this form. However, the mother must also be willing to sign the document declaring you the other parent.

Filing a Petition to Adjudicate Parentage

If, for whatever reason, a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity will not work for you, you have another option: going to court. Your attorney can file a petition to adjudicate parentage, naming the mother as the respondent. You and the mother will both be ordered to attend a hearing. Several things can happen at this hearing.

If the mother simply fails to show up, you will likely be declared the father by default. If the mother does show up, the court will give her an opportunity to state whether she agrees that you are the father. If she agrees, the court can enter a judgment declaring you the father. If she does not, the court is almost certainly going to order a DNA test. If the DNA test shows that you are the father, the court will use those results rather than relying on the mother's word.

Once a court establishes legal parentage, it may then address issues related to child custody and child support. As your child's parent, you will typically have the right to spend reasonable amounts of parenting time with them on a regular basis, even if you do not share in parental responsibilities. Parenting time will usually only be denied if there is evidence showing that you present a risk to the child's physical or emotional health and well-being.

Contact a North Shore Paternity Attorney

At Sucharski Law Firm LLC, our lawyers can help you establish paternity for your child, ensuring that you will be able to have an ongoing relationship with them. We also assist mothers in establishing paternity, which can ensure that their child will receive the necessary financial support. Contact us today at 224-276-6776 to set up a free consultation.

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