Establishing paternity is often advantageous for everyone involved. If you are the mother, establishing paternity gives you a chance to pursue child support from your child’s other parent. If you are a father, doing so gives you grounds to seek visitation or custody rights over your son or daughter.

The child, too, benefits from knowing who his or her father is. While knowing who fathered him or her may give your child a better sense of identity, it may, too, help provide critical information about your child’s medical background. It also gives the child claim to any retirement, military or other benefits the father may have, if applicable.

Unless you and your child’s other parent were in a marriage at the time of the birth, you must establish paternity to enjoy these benefits. There are three ways to do so in Illinois.

1. Sign an acknowledgment

If both parties are in agreement about paternity, signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity in the presence of someone from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services is one option.

2. Secure an Administrative Paternity Order

Another method of establishing paternity in Illinois involves having the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services establish and enter an administrative paternity order. You may need to consider this or other options if you have questions about whether you fathered the child in question. Conversely, you may have to do so if the person you believe fathered your child refutes your claim.

3. Secure an Order of Paternity

A third way to establish paternity in Illinois involves having a judge enter an Order of Paternity with the court. This scenario and the one above may require DNA testing. Typically, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services steps in to help initiate the testing process. If necessary, you may need to rely on other legal measures, such as attending a hearing, to prove paternity.