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Do Cohabiting Parents Need to Legally Establish Paternity in Illinois?

Posted on in Family Law

st charles paternity lawyerAccording to recent statistics from the Pew Research Center, around 35 percent of unmarried parents are in cohabiting relationships. This includes many parents who have a child without getting married, but continue to live together in a committed relationship. In a case such as this, you might assume that establishing legal paternity is unnecessary, as the child’s father is living with the child and actively involved in raising him or her. However, failing to take the steps to definitively establish paternity can be a costly mistake in the long run.

Does Cohabitation Create a Presumption of Paternity?

In Illinois, there are certain situations in which a man is automatically presumed to be a child’s legal father. This includes when the man is married to the child’s mother when the child is born, as well as when the man is in a civil union or “substantially similar legal relationship” with the child’s mother, such as a domestic partnership or common law marriage established in another state. However, cohabiting alone does not qualify as a substantially similar legal relationship. This means that even if a man lives with his child, he may not be recognized as the child’s father under the law.

Taking Steps to Establish Paternity

There are several major downsides of failing to establish legal paternity after a child is born. It will be more difficult for the child and the child’s mother to secure child support from the father, and the child will also not have access to other benefits through the father, including inheritance rights, insurance coverage, and government benefits. Also, if the man’s relationship with the mother ends, he will not have the right to petition for parental responsibilities and parenting time unless he has been recognized as the child’s legal father.

Fortunately, establishing paternity is often quite simple when the father and mother are in a committed, cohabiting relationship. The easiest way to do so is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and file it with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. This can be done at the hospital when the child is born. Alternatively, if cohabiting parents decide to get married soon after the child’s birth, they can create a presumption of paternity by ensuring that both parents are listed on the birth certificate.

Contact a Kane County Paternity Lawyer

Establishing paternity is a crucial step whenever a child is born to unmarried parents, but doing so does not have to be difficult. At the Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II PC, we can advise you on your rights as a father or mother and your best course of action for protecting those rights and meeting your child’s needs. Contact us today at 847-428-7725 for an initial consultation with a St. Charles, IL family law attorney.







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