Establishing Paternity in Illinois

Posted on November 12th, 2021 by Danielle Giannola

In Illinois, 750 ILCS 46/204 states that a husband is presumed to be the father of any child his wife gives birth to during the marriage. The husband’s name goes directly on the birth certificate and he has legal rights as the father. However, if the father is not married to the mother at the time the child is born, then he must establish himself as the father legally to have legal rights as a parent to that child. If you need to establish your legal rights to your child, contact one of our family law lawyers in Cook County, Illinois today for a free consultation.

Executing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity:

After the baby is born, the hospital staff will ask the mother and father to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This form, commonly called a VAP, is what is used to establish the father-child relationship. The VAP enables the father to be named on the child’s birth certificate. The hospital staff will send the VAP to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. However, signing a VAP and being named on the child’s birth certificate alone does not grant legal rights as a parent.

Establishing Paternity:

To have legal rights as a parent, the father must first obtain a certified copy of the VAP from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. This can be done by sending in a request. The certified VAP must then be filed with the court. Then, the father will sign and file with the court an Admission of Paternity form. Once the VAP and Admission are filed with the court the judge will issue a Judgment of Paternity. The Judgment of Paternity then grants the unmarried father legal rights as a parent, including the right to have parenting time and parental decision-making as well as the ability to pay or receive child support.

Parentage court is often times stressful and emotional. It is always best to consult with an experienced attorney such as Giannola Legal LLC’s family law attorneys in Cook County, Illinois to understand what the process is, expected timeline, and expectations.

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