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Establishing Paternity in Illinois

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establishing paternity, paternity in Illinois, mother's rights, father's rights, Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form, VAP form, Illinois family law attorneyParental Rights to a Child

A biological mother’s rights over her child automatically attach if she can prove she gave birth to the child. However, a father’s rights over his child can be much more complicated to determine. In an increasing number of cases, paternity must be established to ascertain a father’s rights to his child.

Paternity is a legal relationship that is created between a father and his child. In Illinois, if the mother was married when the child was conceived or born, her husband during that period of time is legally presumed to be the father of that child.

If the parents of the child were not married to each other when the child was conceived or born, the father is considered to be the "alleged father." Once designated the status of an “alleged father” it is his responsibility to seek legal paternity rights.

How Do You Establish Paternity?

Under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 there are three ways to establish paternity:

  1. Both parents must fill out, sign, and have someone witness a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form;
  2. The State of Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ (“HFS”) Child Support Services can issue an Administrative Paternity Order; or
  3. A judge can issue an Order of Paternity.

Why Should an “Alleged Father” Establish Paternity?

An alleged father may want to establish paternity so that:

  • The child’s father can make sure he has all his legal rights to his child;
  • The child’s father is able to put his name on the child’s birth certificate;
  • The child can gain access to family medical history;
  • The child can have access to financial or medical assistance;
  • The child has access to Social Security and veteran’s benefits; and
  • The child has access to any family inheritance.

What is the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

The fastest and simplest way to establish paternity is to fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form (VAP) at the hospital when the child is born. The VAP asks for information about the child, the mother, and the alleged father. It must be signed by both mother and father and witnessed and signed by someone who is at least 18 years old.

A VAP can be used to establish paternity at any time for any child who was born to parents that are not married. If you do not sign the VAP at the hospital, you can get a copy of one at a later date to fill out from a variety of locations like the HFS’ Child Support website or Department of Human Services.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Attorney

Establishing paternity can be a complex task for someone not experienced in family law. If you want to establish paternity, or if you have questions about other family law issues in Illinois, please contact the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC.

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