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The Illinois legislature took vast measures to change domestic relations laws within the state. At the first of the year, modifications to divorce and custody will greatly change the method and circumstances of dissolving a marriage within Illinois. Along with custody-related changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 also goes into effect on January 1, 2016. This is the first significant modification to the Parentage Act since 1984 and several parts of the existing act are being repealed. Overall, the new act seeks to address the changing circumstances of family in today’s society.

Among the numerous changes to the former Parentage Act, the new law removes all designations of mother and father, instead adopting a gender-neutral approach in consideration of same-sex marriage and parental arrangements.

The law also changes the current methods of paternity presumption. Under the new law, parentage is presumed when:

  • The person and the child’s mother are married or in a civil union or substantially similar legal relationship;
  • Within 300 days after the end of a marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship between the person and the child’s mother; or
  • During or within 300 days after the end of an invalid marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship, but the parties had to enter the relationship in apparent compliance with the law;
  • The presumed gather enters into a marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship with the child’s mother after the child’s birth, and the child’s birth certificate lists the person as a parent.

Post-High School Expenses

Under the current Parentage Act, the payment of college expenses was a topic of contention and disagreement. Many argued that post-high school expenditure responsibilities were excluded from parentage determinations. There is no longer any question as the Parentage Act of 2015 now explicitly incorporates post-high school expense responsibilities into parentage cases.

DNA Determination of Parentage

The last change to the Parentage Act allows the court to deny a motion seeking DNA testing. This denial may be based on the conduct of the presumed parent and a determination that the testing is not in the best interest of the child. In making this determination, the court is instructed to consider the following factors:

  • the age of the child at the time of testing;
  • the time elapsed from the child’s birth to when the presumed parent gave notice that he or she may not be the child’s parent;
  • the length of time the presumed parent acted as the child’s parent;
  • the nature of the relationships between the child and the presumed parent, and the child and the alleged parent; and
  • any potential harm that could result for the child if presumed parentage is disproved.

If you or a family member seeks to establish paternity in the Illinois courts, make sure you have an experienced and capable lawyer representing your interests. Contact an attorney at the Law Office of Elizabeth J. Chacko, P.C. today for a consultation. Serving clients in Naperville, Wheaton, and Downers Grove, our attorneys are ready to assist with all of your paternity and custody needs.

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