Did you know that you can be proven to not be the father of a child and still have to pay child support in Illinois for that child?
Last week in Cook County, a judge ordered a man to pay thousands of dollars in past child support for a child that isn't his. The man even took a paternity test to prove he wasn't the father, but it was too late. Back in 1998, the child's mother went to court to get child support and the man never responded to the summons. The judge ruled against the father, since he never showed up or responded in any way. The mother was awarded child support. He never paid, so she recently went to court to collect, and she won.
In a similar case, a man signed an acknowledgment of paternity form after the birth of a child he thought was his. Later, he realized the child was not his and even took a paternity test to prove it. But because of the document he signed, he was on the hook for child support. The form is called a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. If properly signed, you only have 60 days to rescind it.
It seems crazy that you could be financially responsible for a child that isn't yours, or one you've never even met, but it's possible. The lesson here is to take child support proceedings seriously. If there's any doubt, don't sign an acknowledgment form without taking a reliable paternity test first. It may not be romantic, but if you are not 100% sure the child is yours, it's the right thing to do.
And hire a lawyer, if you can, because these things are difficult to change once they become a court order, and there's generally no deadline in Illinois for collecting back payments on a child support order.
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