There are certain circumstances that require the relationship between a father and his child to be established. This is especially true in circumstances where a child was born to parents who are not married. There is a legal process for establishing paternity in Illinois depending on the facts of a particular situation.
How Do I Establish Paternity?
According to Illinois law, if a child was either conceived or born when the mother was married, her husband is presumed to be that child’s father. For fathers of children who were not conceived or born to married parents, paternity must be legally established.
A father can establish paternity in three ways:
Is it Important to Establish Paternity?
- Both mother and father complete, sign, date, and witness a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form;
- The State of Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ (HFS) Child Support Services enters an Administrative Paternity Order; or
- A judge enters an Order of Paternity in a court of law.
There are many benefits to legally establishing paternity, including:
What is the Court Process for Establishing Paternity?
- Ensuring the child’s legal rights in connection with the father-child relationship;
- Adding the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate;
- Protecting the rights of the parents;
- Enabling access to medical information on the father’s side of the family; and
- Ensuring the child obtains benefits that he or she is legally entitled to, including but not limited to financial and medical support, Social Security, inheritance, and other benefits.
Usually, one of the parties, either the mother or the father, petitions the court to establish paternity. The parties are then notified when a hearing is scheduled, and both parties are expected to appear in court along with a representative from the State’s Attorney’s Office. This process may involve DNA testing either being compelled from the father or submitted by the father. After the hearing, the judge will issue an order regarding paternity.
What is the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP)?
The VAP is the easiest way to establish paternity for unmarried parents. The form is available at the hospital and can be completed by the parents when the child is born. The form contains sections relating to information about the mother, the father, and the child. All sections must be completed and other requirements, like signing, dating, and having the form witnessed, must also be completed in order for the form to be valid.
This process can also be used for married mothers whose husband is not the father of the child, but must also be accompanied by a Denial of Paternity Form. Unless both documents are signed and completed, the mother’s husband will legally be considered the child’s father.
The attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC have experience in parentage matters and are prepared to handle your case. Feel free to contact us
today for a consultation to discuss your case. We represent clients in Cook and DuPage Counties, as well as surrounding areas.