Establishing paternity is an important step that all Illinois parents should take, especially if the parents are not married. Although many parents or potential parents only think about the child support aspect, there are numerous other benefits for both the child and the parents.

The legal benefits that the child gets from having paternity established does include the right to certain financial benefits. Child support may be used by the custodial parent for food, housing, medical needs and education costs. However, the financial benefits can also include the right to death benefits, such as Social Security or veteran’s benefits. Establishing paternity also gives the child the right to access the parent’s medical history for any genetic medical issues that may be in the family.

Establishing paternity can have major benefits for the parents as well. For example, the birth father may be able to establish visitation rights or seek custody if the other parent becomes unable to care for the child. Paternity can be established at the birth of the child by signing a Declaration of Paternity, which may also be called an Acknowledgement of Paternity. If the parent was not at the birth, an affidavit of paternity can be signed at any point until the child turns 18.

Dealing with paternity issues can often be difficult, especially if a potential birth father does not want to be involved with the child or the birth mother refuses to allow the potential birth father to be involved. A family law attorney may assist with representing the parent’s interests. The attorney may work with the court to order paternity tests even if one party is not cooperating. If it is found that the birth father is in fact the child’s father, the attorney may work to seek child support or establish visitation and custody rights.