Establishing Paternity: It’s Not as Easy as D-N-A


We’ve all seen the shows. The envelope comes in. The man and woman are nervous. The audience leans forward. The host unfolds the piece of paper, and outcomes those words: “You . . . are the father!” DNA tests are simple and accurate. But what distinguishes these one-off paternity tests on TV from real life is that in a real-life courtroom, you cannot always request a DNA test.

In a courtroom, paternity is implicit if it has already been established. There are four ways to establish paternity in Illinois. First is the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form that each parent is given the opportunity to sign and date, in front of a witness, immediately after the birth of the child. This adds the father’s name to the birth certificate. By signing this, the parents have agreed the father is the biological father, and both have waived their right to genetic testing.

After the VAP, establishing paternity gets more complicated. Second, Child Support Services can enter an Administrative Paternity Order to make sure a child is financially supported. Third, a party (the child, mother, mother-to-be, a government agency, or the supposed father) can file a paternity action, and finally, marriage establishes paternity.

If any of those four cases have been fulfilled, paternity has been established, and during a case, paternity has already been accepted by the court, and the father’s right to demand a DNA test has disappeared. This is by no means a dead-end, however, and having the right lawyer on your side can secure the right to a DNA test, no matter what paternity has been established before. If you’re caught in an uncertain paternity situation, contact a Chicago Family law attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Doman today.

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