Paternity/Child Support/Parenting Class
Paternity is the formal determination of a parental relationship between a father and a child. If the mother of a child is not married to the child’s father at the time the child was conceived or born, the father is the “alleged father” until a formal legal determination is established.
There are three ways to establish paternity.
- Both parents can complete, sign, and have witnessed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). By signing the VAP, the father waives certain rights including the right to have genetic testing to confirm whether or not he is the biological father; https://www.lakecountycircuitclerk.org/court-forms
- An administrative Paternity Order is entered by the State of Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Child Support Services
- An order of paternity is entered in court, by a judge.
ALL parents of a child who are not married to each other are eligible to receive FREE help in establishing paternity and in matters related to child support through Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). HFS can be reached by phone at 800-447-4278 or online at www.illinois.gov/hfs/childsupport.
It is important to establish paternity for many reasons including the following:
1. To ensure the right of both father and child to a legal father-child relationship.
2. To allow the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate.
3. To enable access to family medical information.
4. To secure the child’s benefits including financial, medical support, social security, veteran’s benefits and inheritance.
In Illinois, if the mother of the child is married when the child is conceived and/or born, her husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child. If the child’s father is not the mother’s husband, the presumption can be overcome by the mother and her husband signing an Illinois Denial of Paternity form. The mother and the biological father would then execute a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) to legally establish the father of the minor child.
If the parties are not sure who the biological father is, a paternity test can be performed. A paternity test is a genetic test that compares the DNA of a child, mother, and alleged father to determine whether or not he is the biological father. The DNA is obtained by swabbing the inside of a person’s cheek, and it is easy and painless. DNA testing can be performed through HFS child services or through a private agency. See the HFS contact information above.
Child Support. Child Support is the duty of a parent to financially support his or her child or children.
Child Support Calculation. Child Support is calculated pursuant to a formula set by Illinois Statute 750 ILCS 5/505(a).
Information required to calculate a support obligation includes the number of minor children, the gross income of each parent, the number of overnights which the child spends with each parent during a calendar year, what (if any) maintenance is paid by one parent to the other, any child support which a parent pays for another child from a different relationship, and amounts paid for health insurance for the minor child.
See the Child Support Estimator Calculator through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services https://cscwebext.hfs.illinois.gov/CscWebEx/app/csc?execution=e1s1.
Child Support Termination. Child Support is ordered until the youngest, or only, child reaches the state’s legal age of emancipation. In Illinois, a child is legally emancipated at the age of 18 years, or when the child graduates from high school or attains the age of 19 years, whichever comes first.
It should be noted that if past due support is owed at the time of emancipation, the amount that had been paid for current support may be extended until the past due amount is paid off.
Child Support Modification. If one of the parties’ children emancipates, the child support does not automatically reduce. The court must order the modification to the support order.
Parties are always encouraged to enter into written agreements to settle disputes. However, if the parties reach an agreement regarding child support which is different than the State of Illinois guideline support, that agreement will be considered by the court but is not necessarily binding. The court will order a deviation from guideline child support where it has good reason to do so.
If one of the parties loses his/her job or has some other substantial change in circumstances that would affect the child support calculation, he/she needs to bring a motion before the court stating the factual circumstances and the specific change that is requested.
Child Support Assistance. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Division of Child Support Services (HFS) assists ANY parent in obtaining and enforcing orders for child support. The cases are handled by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office Child Support Enforcement Division.
To initiate a case to establish paternity or to assist in setting child support the party may call HFS at 800-447-4278 or go to the HFS website at Illinois Child Support Application | HFS.
Child Support Enforcement. If the parent who is obligated to pay support is not paying, the other parent may bring a motion to enforce the payment of child support OR can file a Petition for Rule to Show Cause asking the court to find the non-paying parent in contempt of court for intentionally defying the court’s order.
HFS may also provide assistance in enforcing child support. To initiate a case for enforcement of an existing court order for child support, contact HFS at 800-447-4278 or go to the HFS website at Enroll for Services | HFS (illinois.gov)
The Lake County Law Library Center for Self-Representation, located in the courthouse, can also provide assistance in completing the initial forms.
The purpose of the Family Parenting Program is to offer an educational experience to parents, with minor children, who have filed for dissolution of marriage, and to parents, with minor children, who are parties to post-judgment custody or visitation petitions, within Lake County. The Lake County Family Parenting Program is governed by Local Court Rule 4-3.14. There is a fee to take this class. The fee is waived if the Court grants a fee waiver. Enrollment forms are located in each courtroom and at the Clerk’s Office. You may obtain the enrollment form online at www.clcillinois.edu/programs-and-classes/court-programs. If you are prepared to pay for the class by credit card, you may also enroll by phone at (847) 543-2185 or Fax (847) 543-2188.