Establishing paternity in Illinois

Establishing paternity in the state of Illinois is beneficial for both the child and the father. Naming the legal father results in fewer battles or confusion over situations related to finances, health benefits and custody decisions.

According to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, some of the benefits to the father are that his name is added to the birth certificate and it protects his rights in regard to numerous issues, such as custody, related to the raising of the child. An important emotional benefit to the child is they know who their father is and have an opportunity to build a relationship with him. Other benefits include:

  • Information about paternal medical history
  • Improved chances of getting medical and financial support
  • Potential access to Social Security benefits
  • Eligibility for inheritance or veteran’s benefits

Paternity can be established by voluntary acknowledgement from both the mother and father, which is the easiest and least expensive method. Genetic testing can be done to establish legal fatherhood in cases when the father will not voluntarily admit it.

The American Pregnancy Association states that genetic testing on the baby can be done pre- or post-natally. When done prenatally, the easiest and safest test is the non-invasive procedure that analyzes the baby’s DNA. The results of this method are 99.9%, which in most cases is enough to establish paternity. The other tests that can be done prenatally must have a doctor’s consent and come with risks. Because of this, the APA recommends waiting until after the birth, in which either a blood or cheek sample can be taken. Genetic testing of the potential father is usually done with a cheek swab.  

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