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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

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.

Be Absolutely Certain

denial of paternity, paternity, Illinois family lawyerWhen 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.

legal paternity, father's rights, Illinois family law attorneyDaytime television tropes aside, most parents will not require genetic tests to verify a biological relationship with their children. For a child born to married parents, the presumption is made, and nearly always legally established, that both spouses are the child's parents. Each year, however, thousands of children are born to parents who are not married. The laws in most states, including Illinois, make establishing paternity a rather simple process.

Situations may arise, of course, in which a court and government agency may require DNA testing regarding a man's relationship to a child, but most cases are much more straightforward. In Illinois, legal paternity may be determined in one of three ways:

  • Both parents complete and sign a Volunteer Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form;
  • An Administrative Paternity Order is issued by The Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ (HFS) Child Support Service; or
  • A Judicial Order of Paternity is entered by the court.

Completing the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) Form

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