Paternity cases are often about more than determining who is a child’s father. Once the legal father has been established, what will his role be in the child’s life? How much financial support should he provide? While separate from a divorce, a paternity case encompasses many of the same issues, including child support, parental allocation and parenting time.

Most people think of paternity as strictly determining the biological father of a child. But oftentimes, fathers may not know they have a child—and once they do, they want to have a relationship with him or her.

A paternity case in Chicago, the North Shore, DuPage County or the surrounding suburbs typically involves children from a relationship where the parents were never married or had a civil union. Either the father has no legal parental rights and wishes to establish them, or the presumed or recorded father wishes to discern if he is truly the father.

Stern Perkoski Mendez in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook has experience handling cases both where paternity must be established and where the father wishes to modify his involvement in his child’s life. Our office will help you understand the steps involved in an Illinois paternity case and resolve the issue to ensure stability in the child’s life.

How is paternity determined in Illinois?

Usually, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

  • The child was born during the marriage
  • The father was recorded on the child’s birth certificate
  • The father completes a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

If it isn’t clear who the father is, paternity is typically established using a court-ordered DNA test.

What is involved in a paternity case?

Once the identity of the father is determined, a number of other issues must be addressed:

  • Child Support — The father will almost certainly have financial obligations for his child, including paying child support.
  • Parental Allocation — If the father wishes to pursue a relationship with his child, he may seek parental allocation: court-ordered parenting time and decision-making authority (formally known as custody).

What is a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, and how can I appeal it?

Also known as a VAP, the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is a form that identifies the legal father of a child. Created by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, a VAP is different than a birth certificate. While the birth certificate may carry some evidentiary value, the VAP creates a legal presumption that the signatory is the father of the child. In many cases, this presumption is legally binding.

A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity can be rescinded within 60 days of its effective date by way of form and appealed within two years of its execution. An appeal following the 60-day window to rescind requires a material mistake of fact on the part of the signer.

Contact Our Family Law Firm in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook

If you need to address, repeal or appeal your paternity, contact Stern Perkoski Mendez at (847) 868-9584 for a free consultation. We can meet with you in our offices in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook, or at another location.

Our boutique family law firm is based in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook. We serve clients across Cook County and the North Shore, as well as Lake, DuPage and Will Counties.


“When I met Josh, he clearly explained the legal issues at hand and what the legal process would look like. He immediately made me feel comfortable and that I could trust him to handle my situation.”

Renee R., Chicago
For a free consultation, call Stern Perkoski Mendez at (847) 868-9584 or contact us.