Paternity testing is one way to scientifically determine the identity of a child’s father. Since it is most often used to establish a responsibility to pay child support, many named fathers are reluctant to submit to a paternity test.
However, paternity testing can also establish your rights as well as your responsibilities.
For example, a paternity test can conclusively prove you are not the father of the child. The mother is no longer allowed to seek child support or other benefits from you.
If testing identifies you as the child’s father, you will have a legal responsibility to contribute to the support of the child. The support obligation is determined as a percentage of income of both parents according to state-established guidelines.
But as a father, you also have rights under Illinois law. You have a right to regularly scheduled visitations with your child. You have a voice in decisions concerning the child’s education, health care, religious training and other matters affecting the child. You may even seek legal or physical custody of the child.
In most states, including Illinois (750 ILCS 45/5) (from Ch. 40, par. 2505), when partners are married, it is presumed that the husband is the father of any child born to the marriage. If you suspect otherwise, you can discreetly obtain paternity testing to learn the facts. Some men are unable to bond with children they doubt, only to learn years later that the child was indeed theirs. Others have been ordered by divorce courts to support a child they have raised as their own for several years, even if later testing proves no paternity. Still others are devastated when a former spouse reveals “the child isn’t yours” and refuses to allow visitation, even though you and the child have had a close relationship.
With paternity testing, you know all the facts, so you can make informed decisions. By removing doubts, you can be free to establish a secure, loving relationship with your child while exercising your rights and meeting your responsibilities.
For more information about paternity testing, and the rights and responsibilities of fathers under Illinois law, consult a knowledgeable attorney. Paternity testing can benefit both you and your child.