For unwed mothers, the best-case scenario for establishing paternity is a voluntary acknowledgment by both parents. This allows the names of both birth parents to be added to the birth certificate without the need for an Illinois family lawyer, according to information provided by Illinois Child Support Enforcement.
Establishing paternity serves a number of purposes, but most often it helps the mother collect child support payments or determine custody if the parents do not live together, according to FindLaw.
Parents who don't complete the form at the time and place of birth may do so at an Illinois registrar of vital records, the County Clerk's office, Dept. of Human Services office, or child support enforcement office. Parents also have the option of signing the Illinois Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form at home and then mailing it to the address provided (PDF).
But often that's easier said than done, particularly if the father denies his role in the child's conception and care. When voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is not an option, the State of Illinois outlines the following options:
Genetic testing (for contested paternity)
By default, typically when an alleged father is absent for a scheduled interview or genetic test and who has been served with a notice to appear
In court, through the standard judicial process
In the case of a contested paternity, FindLaw states that the mother (often with the help of an Illinois family lawyer) must file a paternity action against the suspected father in court. The suspected father usually is compelled by court order to provide the DNA sample if he denies paternity.
Paternity FAQ (FindLaw)
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