Parentage / Paternity
These are cases where parties have child(ren) together, but were not married. Either party can file a Petition and serving the other party with it by a private process server. A DNA test can be requested by either party and the court will allocate the costs of same between the parties. After an Order adjucating the Father is entered, the parties will attempt to reach a settlement on custody and visitation. If they are unsuccessful, they will be ordered to Mediation.
If Mediation is successful, either a Parenting Agreement or Joint Parenting Agreement will be entered. If Mediation is unsuccessful, then the Court will appoint either a Guadian ad Litem, Child Representative or Section 604(b) Evaluator. The court will review the report/recommendations/position of one of these individuals and will allow the parties to reach a settlement based on same.
If no agreement is reached, the court can conduct a Pre-Trial Conference to make a recommendation about custody, visitation, support etc. The Court can also conduct a Trial and make a decision if the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own. Child support is also awarded in these cases, and it can be awarded retroactive to the date of birth of the minor child(ren), in addition to pregnancy expenses. Parties will need to attend the approved Parenting Class before the entry of the final Parenting or Joint Parenting Agreement.