Should I Voluntarily Acknowledge Paternity?
Under 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
Be Absolutely Certain
Prior to acknowledging paternity voluntarily, it is important that there is no doubt in your mind that you are the child’s father. Once the form has been completed and the time period for rescinding the acknowledgment has passed, you are the child’s father in the eyes of the law.
Be Ready to Assume Responsibility
Acknowledging your paternity of a child, of course, offers you certain rights regarding your child, but it also includes responsibilities. As a legal parent, you are likely to be required to make child support payments, especially if you and your child’s mother are no longer—or never were—in a relationship. In the event that another person is later shown to be the child’s actual father, you will probably not be entitled to compensation for the payments you have already made, which can quickly add up over time.
If you know for sure that you are the child’s father, signing the VAP form may be perfectly reasonable. Your next steps, however, may not be as clear. Legal paternity does not automatically grant you parental responsibilities or time with your child; it merely offers you legal standing to file such petitions with the court. As the child’s father, you can ask for consideration regarding important decisions in your child’s life, as well as parenting time so the two of you can start to build a healthy relationship.
For answers to your questions about the VAP form or parentage laws in Illinois, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney. We will help you understand your options for acknowledging or denying paternity and will fight to protect your rights along the way. Call 630-232-9700 to schedule your confidential consultation today.