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Why is establishing legal paternity important?

When your girlfriend announced that she was pregnant, you were thrilled. You anxiously awaited your child's birth, and you've been there every step of the pregnancy. Now that your child is actually here, you're an active and involved parent. The only problem is that, for one reason or another, your name isn't on the birth certificate as the child's father.

So, why bother establishing your paternity? If you're supporting your child and everything seems fine, is there any point in going to the trouble?

Absolutely.

Unmarried parents are hardly uncommon in the modern United States. It's estimated that one-third of the country's children are living with a single parent.

Unfortunately for you, there's no guarantee that your relationship with your girlfriend will last. You could easily find yourself "pushed out" of your little family if your romance fades, and your current girlfriend finds another partner or marries.

Unlike many other states, Illinois does not recognize a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage. Even if you live with your girlfriend or are engaged when the child is born, you have no legal rights to your child without a formal determination. To get that determination, you must file a petition with the court, serve your child's mother with the forms and attend court. If there's any question about your paternity, you and your child may also have to take a DNA test.

Establishing your paternity ensures that you'll have the opportunity to remain in contact with your child in the future, no matter what happens to your relationship with your girlfriend. It also gives you rights to custody if, for any reason, your girlfriend turns out to be an unfit parent or dies.

Don't let this precious relationship between you and your child fall by the wayside. If you have a paternity issue that you'd like to discuss, please contact our office directly.

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Wheaton, IL 60187

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