A paternity test itself is simple and conclusive, but the underlying issues can be complicated and volatile. If you are party to a paternity action, you should have solid legal counsel at the outset from an attorney who understands the nuances and can represent you effectively in legal proceedings.
The Chicago attorneys of The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., represent putative fathers as well as alleged fathers in paternity proceedings. Our nationally known family law firm has handled complex and contentious paternity proceedings in Cook County, statewide Illinois and beyond. We have a reputation as one of the leading fathers' rights firms in the country, and we vigorously uphold the rights of dads — married or unmarried — to be involved in the lives of their children.
"Although the purpose of a paternity order usually is to provide children born out of wedlock with legal access to a father's financial support and his estate, the order also affirms the father's parental standing in the eyes of the court."
— Jeffery M. Leving, in Fathers' Rights
Experienced Illinois Paternity Lawyers
Paternity actions are a common first step in establishing a parent-child relationship, and the rights and duties that come with that relationship, in cases involving parents who were never married. A paternity action can also come into play between married or divorcing couples when allegations of non-paternity arise due to adultery. In paternity fraud cases, the proceedings can be both technically and legally complex.
The implications of paternity proceedings may be huge, including years of incorrect child support payments or substantial child support arrears, or fathers prevented from having contact with their child. Our attorneys have experience with many paternity scenarios:
- Putative fathers wanting to establish paternity for custody/visitation
- Alleged fathers who deny or question parentage
- Men who discover or suspect they are not in fact the biological father of a child they have raised or supported
- Mothers seeking child support, including retroactive support
- Mothers opposed to the biological father's involvement
The Importance Of Fathers And Families
Continuing a growing trend, the Centers for Disease Control reports that 1.5 million children (40 percent of all births) were born out of wedlock in 2012. While some of those children live and thrive with their unwed parents, millions will grow up without their biological father in the household. When a child's parents are not married or no longer cohabitating, and the father is out of the picture or scarcely involved, that child is statistically more likely to experience poverty, child abuse, arrest, drug use, failure in school and a range of social, emotional and health problems.
For this reason, the Jeffery M. Leving firm is committed to supporting fathers' rights. We advocate for the positive effect of involved fathers in the family courts, in the legislature, in the media and wherever we can give a voice to disenfranchised dads and the institutions of marriage, families and fatherhood.
When Paternity Proceedings Become Necessary
Paternity does not typically arise in divorce because the law already presumes that the husband is the father, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary (such as a DNA test). Often, a finding of paternity by the court or an administrative body is a necessary predicate to a custody action or support claim by unmarried individuals.
A determination of paternity gives rise to the following rights and duties:
- Child support — Once a mother has established a noncustodial father's paternity, she can petition an Illinois court for a child support order. This duty of support is based on the biological relationship and exists even if the father has not been a factor in the child's life. Such a determination works both ways, creating standing for the father to assert custody rights.
- Child custody — Once a father has established paternity, he usually has standing to seek joint or sole custody of his child. The court's ultimate custody determination is based on the best interests of the child involved.
- Visitation rights — A father may seek a determination of paternity to gain visitation (parenting time) with his children.
- Inheritance rights — A determination of paternity may also give a child some inheritance rights should the father die intestate (without a valid will). Conversely, the father may also gain rights of inheritance under Illinois' intestacy statute in the event that the child precedes him in death.
Experience In Complex Paternity Matters
Our legal team at The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving has handled complex paternity matters for people throughout the Chicago area, including service members, athletes and public figures. We have helped our clients establish accurate child support awards and avoid unwarranted support obligations for nonbiological children. We have also helped our clients secure visitation, parenting time, joint custody or sole custody of their nonbiological children.
Call our office at 312-702-0862 and contact us online to schedule a private consultation.