Denial of Paternity: A Difficult Situation
When a married couple announces the birth of a new baby, it is generally the cause for great celebration. Friends and family excitedly share the news and join with the mother and father in welcoming the new addition to the family. What if the father, however, is not really the father? The law, as one might expect, does not really address how a family is supposed to deal with such a situation, but it does offer some legal guidelines for the parents on how to proceed.
Legally Married, Legal Father
Illinois law regarding paternity assumes that a child born or conceived during a marriage is the child of the married couple, establishing legal parental rights for both the mother and the father. In a vast majority of cases, such an assumption is correct and simplifies the legal process. However, situations may arise in which the husband of the marriage is not, in fact, the biological father of the child, such as infidelity or a new relationship by the mother during an extended divorce process.
Denial of Paternity
In such a situation, the husband, or the presumed father, may not be inclined to accept the rights and responsibilities of legal paternity. As such, the presumed father may sign a denial of paternity, refuting that he is the natural father and waiving parental rights to the child. Denying paternity, however, may not necessarily absolve the presumed father from parental responsibilities, as additional steps must be taken.
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
While the denial of paternity is a presumed father’s initial course of action, Illinois law looks to establish a parental relationship for both parents whenever possible. Thus, when the biological father is someone other than the husband, both the biological father and the mother must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) to complete the process.
Potential Complications and Legal Help
In the event that the VAP is not completed or is eventually rescinded, the presumed father may still be declared the legal father despite his denial. The establishment of his paternity may leave him responsible for supporting the child, even if the marriage has subsequently ended. His remaining recourse would be to take legal action in an effort to convince the court that he is not the natural father, and encourage the establishment of the biological father’s legal paternity. This can potentially be accomplished through genetic testing and/or a judicial order.
Legal action, however, can be complex and should only be pursued with the help of qualified legal representation. If you would like to know more about the denial of paternity or would like to initiate action to that end, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney today. We will review your case and work with you to ensure that your rights under law are protected.