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How to Establish Paternity in Illinois

Posted on in Paternity

Wheaton IL family law attorneyUnder Illinois law, if the biological parents of a child are not married (or in a legal civil union) at the time of their child’s birth, the biological father is not automatically considered to be the legal father, regardless of whether the parents live in the same home or if they plan to get married. Until paternity is established, the father will not have any parental rights or grounds to pursue custody. Fortunately, there are a few different ways for a man to become legally recognized as a child’s father.

Legal Presumption of Paternity

The legal relationship between a father and his child is known as “paternity.” When the mother of a child is married or in a civil union with a man at the time of the child’s birth, or within 300 days of the child’s birth, the law presumes that man to be the child’s father. This means that the man is recognized as having parental rights, and that he can petition for parenting time and parental responsibilities if he is no longer married to the child’s mother.

Establishing Paternity

When a man is not married to or in a civil union with the mother of his child within 300 days of the child’s birth, he will have to acknowledge or prove paternity to be considered the child’s father under the law. After paternity is established, a child may then have access to a variety of benefits, including:

  • The right to child support from the father

  • The right to inherit from the father

  • Health insurance coverage on the father’s plan

  • Life insurance benefits from the father

  • Veteran and Social Security benefits through the father, when applicable

  • Access to the father’s family medical history

When legal paternity has not already been presumed, there are three ways it can be established in Illinois:

  • Both parents fill out and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form, which must be witnessed and filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS)

  • An administrative paternity order is established and filed by the DHFS

  • A judicial paternity order is established by the court

Before signing a VAP, a man may want to request a DNA test to determine whether he is the biological father. In the case of an administrative or judicial paternity order, a DNA test will likely be ordered by DHFS or the court.

Where Can You Obtain a VAP?

One of the easiest ways to establish paternity is by completing a VAP form at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. This can be done when the parents provide information for the baby’s birth certificate. Once a VAP is filed through DHFS, the father’s name will be added to the birth certificate.

Aside from the hospital, parents can obtain a VAP form at any time from an office of the Department of Human Services, a state or local Registrar, a County Clerk, or a local child support office. Parents can also find a VAP online at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services website.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Child Custody Lawyer

Establishing paternity can be extremely important for ensuring that your child receives what he or she deserves, as well as protecting your own parental rights. A DuPage County family law attorney can help you to fill out the proper paperwork and represent you in any legal actions. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact Davi Law Group at 630-580-6373 today.






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