Kane County family law attorneyIt is a common—albeit somewhat of a stereotype--trope that when a child is born, it is the mother who will have to seek the biological father out and hector him into formally acknowledging legal paternity. However, this does a disservice to the millions of fathers who actively wish to be involved in their children’s lives yet are discouraged or dissuaded from acknowledging paternity or are actively turned away from trying to claim a child as their own. If you want to be involved in your child’s life, but are facing resistance or problems, you do have options you can use to pursue the matter.

What Are My Rights?

In some cases, acknowledging paternity of your child can be very easy. When the baby is born, you and the mother—if you are unmarried—will have the opportunity to complete a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP) form. While there are other opportunities to establish paternity, this is by far the quickest and easiest method if the child’s mother is cooperative with your efforts. It is extremely important to realize, however, that completing a VAP form does not entitle you to any custodial rights regarding nor to any guaranteed parenting time. It establishes a legal parent-child relationship, but it does not make any other guarantees.

Posted on in Paternity

Kane County family law attorneyIn many states, Illinois included, the paternity of a child is in presumed to be in doubt if the mother is unmarried. There are ways to effectively establish legal paternity that are quick and easy, and by comparison, there are also ways to legally and definitively disavow paternity. Given that the law is different in every state, it is incumbent on you to know your rights and responsibilities if you decide to become a father.

Ways to Establish Legal Paternity

If you are married at the time of your child’s conception and/or birth, your husband (or ex-husband) is legally presumed to be that child’s father. If you are unmarried, there are three main ways to establish legal paternity, which both allows for rights--such as parenting time—and obligations—such as child support, if the parents do not later marry. They are:

Posted on in Paternity

Kane County parental responsibilities lawyerIn Illinois, if a child is born outside of marriage, the issue of paternity is not automatically assumed by the law. When children are born to legally married partners, paternity is assumed. For unmarried couples with children, the state or court system may become involved to determine issues of paternity, support, and parenting responsibilities if necessary. The Illinois General Assembly enacted the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984, followed by recent update—the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015—to establish legal procedures for securing the rights of unmarried parents.

Illinois Law Gives Default Parental Responsibilities to Unmarried Mothers

In Illinois, state law mandates that in the case of unmarried parents, the mother will retain all parental responsibilities—previously known as custody—until paternity is established. Paternity actions establish a legal parent-child relationship and the right to pursue responsibilities regarding or a child that was conceived outside of marriage. Either the mother or the purported father of the child may file a paternity action.

Geneva family law atttorneyUnlike fathers who were married to the mother of their child at the time of birth, unwed fathers are not automatically granted parental rights. Instead, they must take legal steps to establish their role in the life of a child. This starts with the establishment of paternity, which is not presumed for unwed fathers, and continues with a petition to the court. If you are an unwed father and want to gain and establish legal rights to parent your child, the following information can help.

Establishing Paternity

Before an unmarried father can seek legal parenting rights to his child, he must first establish paternity. This can be done in one of three ways:

Posted on in Paternity

paternity, Geneva family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, the legal relationship between a child and his or her father is only presumed if the man was married to child’s mother at the time of, just prior to, or just after the child’s birth. According to the most recent available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, more than 40 percent of all births in the United States are to unmarried mothers. These numbers indicate that, on average, paternity cannot be presumed in about two out of five cases.

The most common method for establishing paternity when there is no existing presumption—or to rebut a presumption in certain cases—is by means of a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (VAP) form. When both the mother and father complete the form properly, it creates a legal parent-child relationship between the man and his son or daughter. As such, completing the VAP form is an extremely serious matter and one that should not be taken lightly.

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