In Illinois, the term “parentage” rather than “paternity” is generally used, although you may still hear “paternity” used colloquially. Adjudicating parentage means judicially deciding who a child’s parents are. Our state’s parentage laws have broadened to reflect the idea that not all children have one mother and one father. A child born into a marriage between two women is presumed a child of both, for example. Only once paternity has been definitively established can a parent pursue parental rights, seek shared parenting time, or seek child support payments.
If parentage is not established at the hospital at the time of birth and at least one parent will not voluntarily acknowledge their parentage at a later time, a judicial action may need to be initiated. Many interested parties can initiate this type of action. If you may need to go to court to establish parentage, it is best to be represented by an experienced attorney.
Parties Who May be Able to Initiate Parentage Proceedings
Establishing parentage protects the child and parents alike. Parents can assert parental rights, while children generally benefit from having a relationship with and support from both parents. Parties who may be able to petition the court to adjudicate parentage include:
- Child – While children cannot generally file a petition themselves, a representative of the child may be able to pursue a parentage determination on their behalf.
- Mother – Mothers very commonly initiate parentage proceedings to establish who the father of their child is and to pursue child support. A mother may move to adjudicate parentage while she is still pregnant if she wishes.
- Putative father – Any male who believes that he is a child’s father may ask the court to discern whether the child is biologically his and declare his paternity if so.
- Putative mother – A woman may be the parent of a child who is not biologically hers under certain circumstances. Or, a mother may need to establish her parentage if there are circumstances rendering it unclear whether she is a mother to the child.
- Government agency – The government organization tasked with child support enforcement or another authorized agency may initiate a parentage action to protect the child. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services may pursue a parentage action if the child receives support from it or has in the past.
- Caregivers – A person who physically has custody of the child, who has official parental responsibilities to the child, financially supports the child, or has a history of financially supporting the child may be able to initiate an action.
Generally, the statute is crafted to allow a variety of interested individuals to pursue this type of action.
Contact a DuPage County Parentage Lawyer
Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio is skilled in helping parents and putative parents pursue paternity actions. Our experienced Hinsdale parentage attorneys are committed to protecting the interests of children and parents alike. Call 630-920-8855 for a free consultation.