States Attorney.

Child Support Enforcement Division – Establishing Parentage

Child Support Enforcement Division

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity?

Establishing paternity provides several benefits to both the father and the child, including the potential to provide basic emotional, social, and economic ties between the parent and the child. Furthermore, numerous researches and indications have been made to demonstrate the direct relationship between fathers taking active roles in the upbringing of their child and the success of children in their lives.

The benefits of establishing paternity also include giving the child a chance to develop a relationship with his/her father, as well as create a sense of identity and connection with his/her family. Medically speaking, it may be important to note the medical history of the father, especially when it comes to the health of the child. In relation to legal matters, an indication of paternity denotes that the child now gains legal rights and privileges, such as rights to inheritance, the father’s medical and life insurance benefits, and social security or veteran’s benefits.

How is Paternity Established in Illinois?

Paternity may be established legally and administratively by the states, at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) through two ways – signing a voluntary acknowledgement by the parent at the hospital any time after the child is born, or through state-established legal processes, which often entails genetic testing. This method proceeds, thereafter, through a court process.

What are the Court Process Procedures to Establish Paternity?

The state holds power to establish the paternity through court or administrative action, which begins once a referral for legal action is sent from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to the State’s Attorney’s Office. The case is to be addressed, beginning with the notification of the alleged father, informing of the paternity proceedings, through service of summons by the Sheriff’s Office. Legal action advances upon introduction of the person in question. Otherwise, no further legal action can be made until the alleged father is served.

What are the Court Procedures in the Parentage and Child Support Court [PCSC]?

Should your paternity case be assigned to PCSC, it may be heard before a hearing officer or a judge. A hearing officer is an attorney appointed by the court, wherein the hearing officer will recommend an order regarding the paternity proceedings and forward the order to a judge for entry, all once the alleged father admits to paternity. Court proceedings occurring at suburban locations will be heard before a judge, in which order will be made by the judge once alleged father admits paternity.

Regardless of whether or not the alleged father appears after he has been properly served, a paternity order may still be entered by the court.

What Happens if the Father Denies Paternity?

Denial of paternity by the alleged father or the uncertainty of paternity entails genetic testing to which the mother, the alleged father, and the child will be ordered to submit to. Subsequently, the case will proceed for 40 to 75 days to accommodate the results of the genetic testing; however, regardless of the test results, the alleged father may either admit or deny paternity at the next court date.

The case may proceed into the discovery phase if the alleged father continues to deny paternity. In this occurrence, each party will undergo interrogations upon the other or the taking of depositions. Following the completion of the discovery phase, the case will be arranged for trial. A bench trial will be executed, where the trial will be heard before a judge, pursuant to Illinois Law.

What Happens if You are Unsure of Who the Father is?

Due to the availability of more accurate genetic testing, it is now possible to determine who is the biological father of the child is and will also be able to exclude anyone who did not father the child. This process implies that in the case where more than one man could be the father of the child, each of the potential fathers is to be required to undergo genetic testing.

What if You Don’t Know Where the Father is?

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services State and Federal Parent Locator Services will be able to help you locate the father of the child.

What Happens After Paternity is Established?

After establishing paternity, the court may institute a child support order, in which a Child Support Enforcement (CSE) worker may discuss to the father the necessary financial and medical needs of the child. Furthermore, the CSE worker may inform the father of what he is required to pay for child support, as according to the state’s Child Support Guidelines. Child support order issued by the court may also state the exact terms of custody, visitation, and other parental rights.

Updated: August 23, 2020

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