Kane County Paternity LawyerIn Illinois, both parents have a legal responsibility to provide financial support to a child. The parent with the greater amount of parenting time, or time spent with the child, is the parent who receives child support. The parent with less parenting time is responsible for making child support payments. Child support payors or “obligors” may be men or women. However, statistics show that about 85 percent of the people who pay child support are men.

Many people have questions about how and when a father is required to pay child support. For example, does a father have to pay child support if he never sees his child? Can a father surrender his parental rights? Can a father avoid paying child support by refusing to sign the birth certificate?

Parentage and Paternity in Illinois

In order to understand how child support works, it is important to first understand the concept of “parentage.” Parentage is defined as the legal relationship between a child and his or her parents. Once parentage is established, parents have certain rights and responsibilities towards their child. Parentage involving fathers is called paternity.

In Illinois, there are three ways to establish paternity:

  • The father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. This form is usually signed at the hospital when the child is born.

  • A court can order DNA paternity testing, and if the results show that the man is the child’s father, the court will enter an order of paternity.

  • If the father does not agree that he is the child’s father, paternity can be established by filing a Petition to Determine Parentage with the court.

Establishing paternity is important because it gives the child a legal relationship with his or her father. Once paternity is established, the father has certain rights and responsibilities towards the child, such as the right to request parenting time and the responsibility to pay child support.

Fathers cannot avoid child support obligations by refusing to sign a VAP or birth certificate. The mother can still take legal action to establish paternity. The only reason a father would not be required to pay child support is if he can prove that he is not the child’s biological father.

Surrendering Parental Rights

In some cases, a father may want to surrender his parental rights. This means that he would no longer have any legal rights or responsibilities towards the child, including the right to request parenting time and the responsibility to pay child support. Because the child’s best interests are always the priority in family law cases, Illinois courts only allow a parent to voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights under a narrow set of circumstances.

Parents are typically only allowed to terminate parental rights if there is another individual willing to adopt the child. For example, consider a woman who conceives a child with a man who wants nothing to do with the child. She later meets and marries a man who is willing to step up and take on the role of stepfather in the child’s life. In a situation like this, the stepfather may be able to legally adopt the child and become the child’s legal parent. The biological father would surrender his parental rights to allow this to happen.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney from the Goostree Law Group

Child custody, paternity, and child support can be complex issues to handle. If you have questions about your legal rights or responsibilities as a parent, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney from the Goostree Law Group. Our attorneys provide compassionate and effective representation to families in Geneva, Elgin, Batavia, and throughout Northern Illinois. Call 630-584-4800 to schedule a free consultation.