Paternity Issues in Chicago, IL


Establishing paternity is often a first step for unmarried fathers who want to exercise their parental rights as well as mothers who want to hold fathers accountable for support. From time to time, paternity can also become an issue between married spouses when there are allegations of adultery. In either case, Illinois law provides strict rules for establishing or contesting paternity in court. At Downs Law Offices, our paternity attorneys have helped people throughout Chicago in both contesting and establishing paternity. Whether you are a man who wants to assert fathers' rights over a child you believe is yours or a mother seeking support from an absentee father, or you need to dispute someone else's claim about who is a child's father, our team of lawyers is here to help you take that first step.


Parental rights such as child custody are contingent upon the biological relationship between parent and child, so unmarried parents have the same rights and duties concerning a child as married parents. However, while a married man is presumed to be the father of a child born to his wife during or shortly before the marriage, there is no such presumption between unmarried parents. Unmarried parents can establish this relationship by both signing an acknowledgement of paternity or parentage. If, however, either party does not agree to do so, a court or administrative determination of paternity, usually proven by genetic testing, is necessary to establish parental rights and duties. Several parties can initiate a court action to establish paternity:

  • The mother
  • The presumed father
  • Another man alleging himself to be the father
  • The child
  • Any public agency that has custody of or is supporting the child
  • The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

Additionally, an action to set aside paternity may be brought by the mother, the child or the man presumed or previously adjudicated to be the father.


Paternity is less likely to be an issue between married parents, although it can come up periodically during divorce. As the right of custody and duty of support proceeds from the parent-child relationship rather than the marriage relationship, a husband or wife can offer clear and convincing evidence, usually from genetic testing, to rebut the presumption that the husband is the father of any child born to the wife during the marriage. If either party shows that the husband is indeed not the father, the rights of custody and visitation and the duty of support may no longer apply to him. An experienced family lawyer can advise you how to raise this issue during the divorce process.

Paternity disputes in Chicago always arise from emotionally difficult situations. Whether you are a mother, presumed father or a man who believes yourself to be the father of a child, our attorneys at Downs Law Offices can provide the counsel and representation you need along with the emotional sensitivity you deserve.

Counsel and support for mothers and fathers

To learn your options for contesting or establishing paternity, call Downs Law Offices at 312-781-1963 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We are conveniently located in the Loop, easily accessible to public transportation and offer flexible hours by special arrangement.