Sometimes, a child’s parentage is questioned, and paternity must be legally substantiated to protect both child and father. In Illinois, parentage is reasonably straightforward when biological parents of a child are married at the time of conception or birth. But in situations where this is not the case, Illinois paternity attorneys warn that understanding state parentage laws is essential to both establishing paternity and protecting the rights of all parties involved.
The State of Illinois defines paternity as the legal relationship between a father and his child.
As outlined in the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015, Illinois “recognizes the right of every child to the physical, mental, emotional, and financial support of his or her parents.”
The Parentage Act also defines how to legally establish paternity.
The most common way of establishing a child’s parentage in Illinois is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form. At the time of birth, hospital staff will present a VAP form for both parents to read and sign, allowing the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate.
Illinois paternity lawyers explain that by signing a VAP, the mother and father voluntarily acknowledge the child’s paternity and waive any right to genetic testing for paternity purposes. They are also accepting financial support obligations for the child, including future medical and child support obligations.
In situations where the VAP form is not signed at the time of birth, the form may be completed and officially recorded at a later date. The father’s name will only be added to the child’s birth certificate after a VAP is signed and recorded.
Illinois’ Child Support Services may issue an Administrative Paternity Order to establish a child’s paternity and might order genetic testing to confirm the father’s identity.
Most often, administrative paternity orders are sought for purposes of enforcing child support obligations.
Paternity actions can be filed through Illinois courts to establish the paternity of a child. In a non-jury trial, a judge will preside over the matter and decide the child’s paternity. If the alleged father is decided to be the child’s biological father, a final paternity order will be issued confirming paternity.
In addition to relationship and support considerations, paternity can impact a child’s right to certain insurance, such as health insurance and life insurance benefits, Social Security and other government benefits, and potential inheritance benefits.
Establishing paternity is also the primary safeguard of an unmarried father’s rights, as well as of divorcing fathers seeking to preserve their relationships with their children. When paternity is in question, the custodial and visitation rights of fathers can be affected, sometimes requiring court intervention.
Acknowledging paternity of a child means that you are entitled to certain parental rights, and are likewise obligated to specific parental responsibilities. If you find yourself in a situation where the paternity of a child affects you, you may need an attorney.
Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm to discuss your paternity questions today. Our experienced Illinois paternity lawyers can explain Illinois paternity law and help you understand your rights and responsibilities.
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