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Illinois Information

Establishing Paternity Under Illinois Law

Establishing paternity is the critical first step in collecting child support. When legal paternity is established, a child has the right to the father’s Social Security or veteran’s benefits, medical coverage, pensions and inheritance. Also, the medical genetic information of both parents is available for the child if needed for diagnosis and treatment of medical problems.

How Can Paternity be Established?

  • To make it easier for unwed parents to establish paternity at the time of the child’s birth, Illinois law makes it possible for both parents to sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form in the hospital. Signing this form eliminates the court process and is vital to having the father’s name added to the birth certificate.
  • Parents who do not sign the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form at the hospital may sign it later at any local registrar of vital records, county clerk’s office, local Department of Human Services office or child support enforcement office. The form can also be completed, witnessed at home and mailed to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Administrative Coordination Unit, 509 South Sixth Street, Springfield, Illinois 62701.
  • Persons on public assistance must participate in the establishment of paternity. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Division of Child Support Enforcement uses an administrative process when the alleged father and mother consent to establishing paternity or when the alleged father contests being named the father. The alleged father has the right to a hearing by an administrative law judge or a court hearing if he requests.
  • Genetic tests are used when an alleged father is in doubt about being the father or whenever paternity is contested.
  • Paternity can be established by default when an alleged father fails to attend a scheduled interview or to go for a scheduled genetic test and has been properly served with a notice to appear.
  • Paternity can be established by publication of the alleged father’s name in the newspaper.
  • Paternity can be established in court using the standard judicial process for persons not receiving services from the Division of Child Support Enforcement or for alleged fathers of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) clients when they request it.

Prepared By: Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Filing Your Illinois Divorce Papers In Chicago

Where to File: If you live in Chicago, you begin your Illinois Divorce case by filing your papers with the Domestic Relations Division, located in Room 802 of the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., Chicago, Illinois.

Clerk’s Office Hours of Operations:.

The Clerk’s Office is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Daley Center and from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Suburban Districts.

Clerk’s Office Phone Numbers:

General Office No………………………(312) 603-6300

Kelly Smeltzer…………………..(312) 603-6352
Chief Deputy Clerk

Mike Johnson………………………….(312) 603-6986
Asst. Chief Deputy Clerk

Filing Fees

The fee to file your divorce/dissolution case is $220.00. The fee for filing an Appearance, as a respondent, is $104.00.

Requirements for Filing Petition for Joint Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Illinois

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides for a simplified and expedited divorce procedure if the parties meet the basic requirements that are set forth in Chapter 750, Section 452 of the Illinois Statutes. Among other requirements, the parties must certify that: (a) they were not married for more than eight (8) years; (b) one of the parties has resided in Illinois for at least 90 days; (c) irreconcilable differences caused the breakdown of the marriage; (d) the parties executed a written agreement for the division of assets that have a value of more than $100.00; and (e) neither party has an annual income of more than $20,000.00.

The exact language of the statute is as follows:

750 ILCS 5/452

Sec. 452. Petition. The parties to a dissolution proceeding may file a joint petition for simplified dissolution if they certify that all of the following conditions exist when the proceeding is commenced:

  1. Neither party is dependent on the other party for support or each party is willing to waive the right to support; and the parties understand that consultation with attorneys may help them determine eligibility for spousal support.
  2. Either party has met the residency requirement of Section 401 of this Act.
  3. Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and the parties have been separated 6 months or more and efforts at reconciliation have failed or future attempts at reconciliation would be impracticable and not in the best interests of the family.
  4. No children were born of the relationship of the parties or adopted by the parties during the marriage, and the wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant by the husband.
  5. The duration of the marriage does not exceed 8 years.
  6. Neither party has any interest in real property.
  7. The parties waive any rights to maintenance.
  8. The total fair market value of all marital property, after deducting all encumbrances, is less than $10,000, the combined gross annualized income from all sources is less than $35,000, and neither party has a gross annualized income from all sources in excess of $20,000.
  9. The parties have disclosed to each other all assets and their tax returns for all years of the marriage.
  10. The parties have executed a written agreement dividing all assets in excess of $100 in value and allocating responsibility for debts and liabilities between the parties.

750 ILCS 5/454

Sec. 454. Affidavit. At the time of the hearing, the parties shall submit to the court an affidavit executed by both parties stating that all property has been divided in accordance with the agreement of the parties and that they have executed all documents required to effectuate the agreement.

Distribution of Pension Benefits and Other Forms of Retirement Benefits in Divorce under Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, pension benefits earned during the course of the marriage are considered marital property despite the fact that they may not actually be distributed until after the marriage. In re Marriage of Abma, 308 Ill. App. 3d 605, 615, 720 N.E.2d 645, 654 (1999). Those benefits have been described as a form of deferred compensation earned by an employee for his service to an employer. Abma, 308 Ill. App. 3d at 615, 720 N.E.2d at 654. As such, they are treated as earnings, and to the extent that a spouse earned those benefits during the marriage, they are considered marital property. Abma, 308 Ill. App. 3d at 615, 720 N.E.2d at 654.

In situations where amounts may be added to the participant's account after the date of dissolution that were earned during the parties' marriage, the courts in Illinois have approved the use of a percentage formula. In its decision in In re Marriage of Kathleen Jamieson, 379 Ill. App. 3d 100 (2008) the Appeals Court approved the trial court's use of the following language, which provides for both the balance as of the date of the divorce, and a percentage formula for dividing post-divorce increases earned during the marriage:

“Amount of Alternate Payee’s Benefit:

Amount of assignment: This Order assigns to Alternate Payee *** 55% of the money purchase account of the Participant’s Total Account Balances, of said above accounts as determined by the plan for Plan Year ending September 30, 2005.

Post-Divorce Contributions Attributable to Periods Before Divorce: In the event that the Plan made any contributions to the Participant’s account(s) for Plan Year ending September 30, 2006, then the Alternate Payee shall receive 41.25% (which is 55% of 75% of the Plan Year) of such contributions as of September 30, 2006.”

Courts retain jurisdiction to modify QDRO's, as may be necessary to comply with the Plan's requirements or effectuate the judgment of divorce. In re Marriage of Allen, 343 Ill. App. 3d 410 (2003). In In re Marriage of Allen, the appellate court approved the trial court's issuance of a modified QDRO which distributed the husband's pension by calculating the wife's share as follows:”multiplying the Participant’s Accrued Benefit by a Coverture Fraction (less than or equal to 1.0), the numerator of which is the number of months of the Participant’s participation in the Plan earned during the marriage (from August 18, 1981 to October 6, 1995), and the denominator of which is the total number of months of the Participant’s participation in the Plan as of the earlier of his date of cessation of benefit accruals or the date that Alternate Payee commences her benefit hereunder.”


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