The Chicago Family Law Blog

Paternity in Chicago

Paternity is the legal establishment of one’s father, used to make sure the biological father maintains his financial and other responsibilities to his child. The default assumption is that the husband is considered the father upon a child’s birth, thereby establishing legal paternity; while a father who is not married to the mother must sign a voluntary declaration of paternity. Thanks to DNA testing, labs can determine whether a man is the father of a child with a 99.9 percent rate of accuracy. Fathers with legally established paternity of a child are financially responsible and also have visitation or custody rights, assuming there are no reasons to deny such privileges (such as a history of violence or drug abuse).

In the best-case scenario, fathers are either married to the mother or voluntarily declare their paternity. But sometimes an Illinois family law attorney is needed to help enforce the paternity of an uncooperative dad, or at least clear him from the list of potential fathers. For more information about paternity issues in Chicago, see:

Recently in Paternity Category

Avoiding Legal Pitfalls of Surrogacy and Sperm Donation

You’ve heard of that poor kind-hearted man in Kansas, right? He answered an online advertisement for a lesbian couple that was seeking a sperm donor. The parties came to an agreement, signed a contract, and one of the women conceived a child.

Hard times hit and the couple applied for state benefits. Kansas sued the sperm donor for child support because the parties did not use a doctor in the insemination process, reports the Associated Press.

Rapists' Rights? What Happens When the Victim Gets Pregnant

A recent verbal miscue by a Missouri Congressman has sparked loads of criticism and hopefully some intelligent debate and reform. Nearly everyone has heard of Rep. Todd Akin's comment that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate" rape. The immediate response was forceful, angry, and in at least one case, incredibly insightful.

Shauna Prewitt, a self-described author and advocate, wrote an open letter on addressing Rep. Akin's comments. As a mother of a child that was conceived through forcible rape, she was appalled by his comments. Instead of merely venting however, she also took the opportunity to point out that in the majority of states, there are no laws to restrict the custodial rights of rapist fathers.

The Boy IS Yours: Establishing Paternity

We understand. Not all parents take responsibility for their children. In fact, some even deny that the child is theirs. What can you do if either the father is not stepping up or the mother denies that you are the father?

There are two legal routes: the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is some paperwork. The hard way means legal battles, paperwork, DNA testing, and probably lawyers. Choose wisely.

Baby Mama Drama: What to do When the Kid Isn't Yours

She says it's yours. You know it isn't. After all, nine months ago, you were broken up and you were a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Nonetheless, because you were married at the time of conception, the baby is legally presumed to be yours. How do you fix it?

We've all been there. (Maybe.) Especially the Rhodes Scholar part. What you do to fix the problem depends on what stage of the process you are stuck at.

Matt Fiddes, martial arts expert and former bodyguard of Michael Jackson, told reporters he's the biological father of the pop star's son, Prince Michael II, according to the Herald Sun. Prince Michael II, also known as "Blanket," was raised by Michael Jackson as his son; but Matt Fiddes' claim casts doubt on the King of Pop's paternity.

He said he donated sperm for Michael Jackson because the deceased singer feared being assassinated on stage, which doesn't exactly clear things up. Matt Fiddes said the singer asked him to look after his children if anything were to happen to him. But how does his sperm help in this regard?

A woman in the Seattle area faces charges of theft and perjury after allegedly faking pregnancy and bilking a man out of thousands of dollars in child support payments, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported.

According to King County prosecutors, Federal Way resident Carmen Lynn Johnsen told her then-boyfriend in December 2008 that she was pregnant and that he was the father. She took pregnancy tests one month later, showing she was not pregnant, but prosecutors said she kept that to herself.

It must be noted that DNA tests used to determine paternity are extremely accurate and in any event, it may be a good idea to consult with an Illinois family lawyer first before agreeing to child support payments.

Following closely behind LeBron James' overwrought announcement of his free agency decision last week on ESPN, Washington, D.C. attorney Leicester Bryce Stovell made is own announcement. He claims he is King James' biological father and is suing him and his mother for alleged fraud, TMZ reported.

He is seeking $4 million in damages for the alleged cover-up of his alleged paternity by the newly signed Miami Heat player's mother, Gloria James. He claims he had "consensual sexual relations" with Gloria James in 1984 in his lawsuit and also is seeking a paternity test.

Most Chicago family law attorneys likely would call this is an unusual case, although wealthy and high-profile celebrities often attract litigation. 

Golfer Tiger Woods may very well have squired a cub or two out of wedlock if he really was as promiscuous as tabloid reports allege. Porn actress Devon James, for one, believes Tiger Woods is indeed the father of her 9-year-old son and has sued in a Florida court for paternity, according to the New York Daily News.

Devon James filed the court papers under her real name, Melinda Janette. She also claims a report that Tiger Woods was cleared by a 2001 DNA screening was not true. The test actually cleared a man named "Matt," she said, and Tiger Woods never did take a test.

Prosecutors say Jacob Nodarse stalked and murdered 50-year-old Jeff Kramer, his 48-year-old wife Lori Kramer and their 20-year-old son Michael Kramer at close range, as reported by the Chicago Daily Herald. Angela Kramer, a 25-year-old mother, survived the shooting by hiding in an upstairs closet.

Michael's girlfriend (identified only as Tina) and another son, Anthony Kramer, also survived the attack.

But while Mr. Nodarse allegedly pulled the trigger, prosecutors say he did so at the behest of his friend Johnny Borizov, Angela's ex-boyfriend and the father of her 13-month-old son.

Angela lived to witness the execution-style murder of more than half of her family even though she may have been the prime target. Mr. Borizov stands accused of masterminding the murders as revenge for a reportedly bitter child custody battle with her and by extension, her family.

But there's plenty of disagreement over this theory.

A column by father advocate Glenn Sacks talks about the case of Illinois resident Richard O. Phillips, who six years ago engaged in oral sex with then-girlfriend Sharon Irons. No big deal, except two years later when Mr. Phillips was served with a paternity suit.

DNA tests confirmed that Mr. Phillips indeed was the child's father and he was ordered to pay $800 in monthly child support. Ms. Irons eventually admitted that she saved his sperm and impregnated herself and he followed up with a suit of his own, claiming emotional distress from the incident.

His suit claims he was haunted by "feelings of being trapped in a nightmare" and that he had trouble sleeping and eating.