Parentage / Paternity Cases

Schiller DuCanto & Fleck’s lawyers for paternity cases in Illinois navigate complex parentage cases. Our experience is unparalleled.

Having children outside of marriage has become a more common practice in recent years. Indeed, more than half of American mothers under age 30 give birth outside of marriage. Celebrities, athletes, and couples from all walks of life have elected to have children without the formality of marriage. The Illinois Parentage Act (“Act”) seeks to address the rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents and their children by providing for recognition of a parent-child relationship as well as tackling the issues of support, custody, and parenting time. Consulting an Illinois lawyer for paternity cases can help you navigate these concerns.

Child support in parentage cases is determined using the same criteria that apply to divorcing couples under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”). The objective is to give the child the same lifestyle that he or she would have enjoyed had the family remained intact. A court must award a statutory minimum percentage of the payor’s net income to the custodial parent, unless there is a significant reason for deviation. This may be the case even if the support award would exceed the actual demonstrated needs of the child.

Additionally, in actions brought within two years of a child’s birth, a court may direct a father to pay the reasonable expenses incurred by the mother relating to her pregnancy and delivery of the child. The Act also provides for an award of child support retroactive to the child’s birth after the court considers relevant factors. This may include the father’s prior knowledge of the child’s birth and the extent the mother previously sought his assistance in supporting the child.

The IMDMA has equalized the custody and visitation rights for unmarried fathers in Illinois to those of married fathers. A man who believes he is the father of a child may seek to have his paternity established by court order, thereby earning the right to request custody of or visitation with his child. Custody is governed by the best interests of the child, with joint custody, or joint decision making, being appropriate in situations where the parties can communicate and cooperate in matters regarding their child’s health, education and religious upbringing. In awarding custody, the court will consider criteria such as the wishes of the parents, those of the child where appropriate, the health of all individuals involved, and the willingness of each parent to encourage a close relationship between the other parent and the child.

In most cases, the parent with whom the child does not reside is entitled to visitation rights. The frequency and duration of such visitation is determined by the child’s best interests. Unlike cases where parents are married, however, there is no presumption that a non-custodial parent should be granted liberal parenting time with his or her child. To the contrary, the parent seeking visitation must prove that it is in the best interest of the child.

For clients who need lawyers for paternity cases in Illinois, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck has the necessary experience to represent your interests and those of your child. We are adept at handling contested and agreed paternity, support, and custody matters with discretion and skill.

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