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blog home Paternity Federal Judge Orders Paternity Requirement Improvements

Federal Judge Orders Paternity Requirement Improvements

By Nottage and Ward on February 2, 2011

On Thursday, January 27, a federal judge ordered Indiana officials to stop refusing parents who are not married an easy way to identify a child’s legal father if one or both parents don’t have a Social Security number, IndyStar.com reports.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit against the Indiana State Department of Health by families whose immigration status restricts them from obtaining a Social Security number. Specifically, the lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of how paternity affidavits are issued, which are forms that unmarried parents can fill out to establish a child’s legal father. According to an attorney representing the families, the policy harms both legal and illegal residents, since many people who are in the U.S. legally can’t obtain Social Security numbers with certain kinds of visas.

Previously, the Department of Health recognized paternity affidavits without Social Security numbers, even in the instances where one or both parents weren’t on the forms. However, as of July 1, 2010 both parents’ Social Security numbers are required to authenticate the forms. According to the lawsuit, the law’s modification robs the children who are born to foreign nationals in the U.S., and thus U.S. citizens, of the ability to receive child support and other benefits related to having a legal father.

Under Illinois Statute 750 ILCS 45/5, the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, a man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if one of the following criterion are met:

  • If the man and the child’s birth mother are currently or were married, and the child was conceived or born during that time;
  • If the man and the birth mother were married after the child’s birth and the man’s name is listed on the birth certificate, consensually;
  • If the man and the birth mother signed an acknowledgement of paternity;
  • If the man and the birth mother signed a parentage acknowledgement—and if the man is not the child’s biological father, a parentage acknowledgement was signed showing a denial of paternity.

It is not enough to assume paternity; a court order or a signed Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is needed. The importance of determining paternity is confirmed in events where a man, presumed to be a child’s father, is required to pay child support, when he is not the child’s biological father in reality. Conversely, if it is assumed a man is not a child’s natural father, he may be denied visitation rights.

The Chicago paternity lawyers at Nottage and Ward have the experience and skills needed to efficiently handle matters of Illinois paternity. We will work diligently to assure that the proper party is granted parental rights. To learn more about how we can help, call 312-332-2915.

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