Paternity Problems Resolved
It is one thing to know that you are the father of a child. It is a different story when you are trying to convince the legal system that you are the father. Although marriage is not right for everyone—and in some situations, should be discouraged—however establishing paternity is significantly easier if the parents are married before the birth of the child. Establishing paternity is not impossible if the child was born out of wedlock, but the process can be much longer and more complicated.
Why Does Marriage Matter?
Does marriage matter? It depends on your circumstances and if you WANT to be married. There are significant benefits that may be available to some married couples, but for others—like those receiving set pensions—it may stop current benefits. Therefore, it is up to each couple to decide if marriage is the right option. It is more socially acceptable than ever before to have children outside of wedlock. Nearly 50% of children born today to women under the age of 30 are born to unmarried mothers. This percentage is regardless of financial or social status and incorporates children of celebrities and political figures as well as ordinary individuals. With regards to establishing paternity, if the mother and spouse are married at the time of conception, or are married on the date of birth, the spouse is presumed to be the other legal parent. If you are part of the unmarried population with a new child, you can establish parentage through provisions in the Illinois Parentage Act.
The Illinois Parentage Act
In Illinois, there are three potential options to establish paternity. These encompass instances where the father would like to be acknowledged and situations in which the father denies paternity. The options are:
Both parents can complete and sign a witnessed and dated Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form;
The State of Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ (DHFS) Child Support Services can issue an Administrative Paternity Order; or
A judge can enter an Order of Paternity.
For the Reluctant Father
If the father is reluctant or refusing to sign the VAP, there are ways to ensure paternity is determined. After all, fatherhood comes with benefits that are unable to be obtained elsewhere, not the least of which are child benefits such as financial child support, medical support, Social Security, veteran’s benefits, and inheritance rights. Genetic testing may be complete to determine paternity by DHFS. However, if the father runs and refused to attend any requested interviews and will not submit to a test, then a judge has the authority to declare him as the father by default.
If you are interested in establishing paternity for your child, an experienced Geneva family law attorney can assist you and remove some of the burden of stress from your shoulders. To discuss your situation with a member of our team, call The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.