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.


Recently in Paternity Category

Woman Charged With Faking Pregnancy In Child Support Scam

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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.

Man Claims He's LeBron James' Father, Sues For Millions

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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 TMZ.com 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.

Was Child Custody Battle At Center Of Darien Slayings?

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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.

Pregnancy From Oral Sex: What About Paternity?

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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.

Establishing Paternity In Illinois

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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). 

Pediatrics Expert Explores 'Reproductive Coercion'

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Unwanted pregnancies most often are the result of two consenting adults having sex either without birth control or with defective or misused contraception. But sometimes women in abusive relationships find themselves tricked or forced into pregnancies, according to a study reported by Newsweek.

Elizabeth Miller, a pediatrics expert and professor at the University of California, Davis, published the study in the journal Contraception to shed some light on what many of her contemporaries say is an underestimated phenomenon. 

Reproductive coercion, Newsweek writes, occurs "when the male partner pressures the other, through verbal threats, physical aggression, or birth-control sabotage, to become pregnant." An Illinois family law attorney could provide more clarity as to how the law handles such instances, but Miller's research finds a close correlation between reproductive coercion and physical abuse.