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Wakenight & Associates, P.C.

1100 Lake Street, Suite 120, Oak Park, IL 60301

DuPage County | 630-852-9700

Mokena | 815-727-6144   Oak Park | 708-848-3159

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How to Establish Paternity in Illinois

Posted on in Family Law

While the birth of a child is a joyous time, one critical legal matter surfaces almost immediately. The establishment of paternity is necessary for a variety of reasons and can be a contentious procedure in some circumstances. 

When a child’s parents are unmarried or not in a civil union, the father is not automatically designated as the child’s legal parent, even when the parents reside together or plan to marry. The father’s name will not be placed on the child’s birth certificate until paternity is officially established.

To ensure every procedure is followed correctly and that your rights are protected, regardless of the complexity of your situation, you are best served by having a family law attorney handle the legal aspects of your paternity case.

Benefits of Paternity

Paternity is the legal relationship between a child and their father. Paternity establishment is essential for a child to be an eligible beneficiary of health insurance, life insurance, Social Security, and veterans’ benefits. It also protects parents’ rights and enables full access to family medical information, and it ensures that a child can receive financial support from both parents.

When a mother is married or in a civil union at the time of or with in 300 days prior to their child’s birth, their spouse or partner is the legally presumed father. For parents who do not fit under these classifications, there are other means to confirm paternity.

Ways to Establish Paternity

Unwed parents can establish paternity by completing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) document in front of a witness at the hospital and have their attorney file it with the Illinois Department of health care and Family Services (HFS). Upon approval, the father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate.

If you are not absolutely certain who the father is, do not sign a VAP. Anyone who signs a VAP can cancel it by completing and filing a VAP rescission document with in 60 days of the VAP effective date. After 60 days, a rescission is not valid.

If a mother is unsure who the father is, or if the father is known but is unwilling to take responsibility, a lawyer can file for an administrative paternity order with HFS or an order of paternity through the court. These actions are designed to legally force potential fathers to submit to a DNA test to establish paternity. 

A paternity test typically utilizes a swab from inside the cheek of the mother, child, and alleged father, and results are virtually 100 percent accurate. Thetest must be administered by a medical professional. Take-home paternity tests are not accepted.

When paternity has been established, the court may make decisions about child custody and parenting time, and child support obligations will be determined. 

Contact an Elmhurst Paternity Lawyer

Paternity proceedings are not something to handle on your own. Parentage is a complex legal matter that is best addressed by a skilled Oak Brook family law attorney from Wakenight & Associates, P.C. We can help you submit a VAP for quick paternity establishment, or we can work with you to compel a possible father to submit a DNA test via court order. Call 630-852-9700 today for a free consultation.

Sources: support/FormsBrochures/Pages/hfs3282.aspx support/FormsBrochures/Pages/hfs341

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