Are You the Father?
Legal Assistance from Our Illinois Family Lawyers
For some men, the prospect of
paternity is exciting and marks a step forward in life. For others, paternity is
something to avoid. Whatever the view, paternity is the term for a man's
legal relationship and responsibilities. It has broad implications and
should be addressed quickly and seriously to ensure both the child's
and the father's rights are protected from the start.
By establishing paternity early, the child's rights to medical insurance,
life insurance, social security, or veterans' benefits are better
protected. Securing a
father's rights can prevent a child from being put up for adoption or taken out of the
state without the father's permission. Moreover,
visitation issues will not be addressed until paternity is resolved.
Establishing Paternity in Illinois
When a married woman gives birth, her husband is the legally presumed father
of the baby. The same presumption applies if the couple was married when
the baby was conceived, but separated afterward. If the biological parents
were not married, the man is not legally considered the baby's father
and he must establish paternity to be named on the child's birth certificate
and to claim any paternal rights.
Paternity can be established three ways in Illinois:
- Both parents can complete and sign a "voluntary acknowledgment of
- The state can enter an "administrative paternity order"
- An Illinois court can enter an order of paternity
Each method has its own specific steps to follow.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
A VAP form can be filled out and signed by both biological parents while
the mother and baby are still in the hospital. The form is self-explanatory
and requires the signatures of both parents and a witness who is at least
18 years old. While a VAP form can be completed at any time, the biological
father's name may be placed on the baby's birth certificate if
the form is completed early enough.
Administrative Paternity Order
To establish paternity, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family
Services' Division of Child Support Services can enter an administrative
paternity order against the presumed father. Generally, HFS will interview
the mother to get paternity information, and the father to determine whether
he will acknowledge paternity or if genetic testing is necessary. However,
HFS can declare an alleged father the legal father if he chooses not to
meet with HFS representatives.
Court Order of Paternity
The Illinois Attorney General or one of the State Attorney's offices
can represent HFS in court. Legal proceedings are initiated by issuing
a summons for the alleged father, who must be served before the process
of determining paternity can begin. The court will enter an order of paternity
if the alleged father admits paternity or if he fails to appear after
being properly served.
If the alleged father denies paternity, or cannot admit or deny for lack
of knowledge, the court orders genetic testing. The test results should
be ready after approximately 45 to 70 days. Should the father continue
to deny paternity despite a positive test result, the matter proceeds
to the discovery phase in preparation for trial. If paternity is established
at any point, the court orders appropriate
child support, custody, and visitation rights and obligations.
Contact Our Skilled Lawyers Today
Paternity is an important legal relationship and determining it early is
always in the best interest of the child. If you or a loved one is involved
in a paternity matter,
contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney from Wakenight & Associates, P.C. to discuss your situation and receive
careful guidance through the process.
We have offices near you in Oak Park, Mokena, Joliet, Aurora,
Elmhurst, Burr Ridge, St. Charles, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Schaumburg,
and Chicago Loop.
Call us in:
- Cook or Lake Counties: (888) 351-2843
- DuPage, Kane, or Kendall Counties: (888) 339-4162
- Will, Kankakee, Grundy, or South Cook Counties: (888) 303-1846