Establishing Paternity of Your Child

paternity, Rolling Meadows family law attorneyWhile more and more couples are having children before marriage or even eschewing marriage altogether, it is still imperative for any child to have two legally recognized parents. If this step is not taken, your child may miss out on advantages that stem from the achievements or status of their parents—opportunities that could make an enormous difference in their lives.

Paternity Laws in Illinois

The Illinois Parentage Act governs issues of paternity, and it sets out three ways that paternity can be established if the parents are not married at either the time of the child’s conception or birth. If the parents are married, the mother’s spouse is presumed by law to be the child’s other legal parent. To establish paternity otherwise, the parents have three options:

  • Voluntary acknowledgment, demonstrated by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form at the time of the child’s birth or soon after. Both parents will sign the form, meaning it is almost always used in instances where parentage in not disputed;
  • Court hearing. This is the method used when the mother and putative father do not agree on who is the legal father; or
  • A hearing at the Department of Healthcare & Family Services (DHFS), which will only settle the issue of paternity and child support. These hearings will not address parental responsibilities or parenting time.

If the putative father of your child refuses to acknowledge paternity, you will likely need to take him to court or to ask for a DHFS hearing. It is important to note, however, that this works both ways; if you dispute a man’s claim to paternity, he may be able to file a petition asking the court to adjudicate or to settle issues of parenting time. In some states, signing a VAP confers custodial rights on the father, but in Illinois, this is not the case. A father must file to be granted parenting time rights.

Benefits to the Child

When an adult is designated the legal parent of a child, the benefits to the parent are numerous. However, there are also multiple benefits—tangible and intangible—that may be conferred on the child by having both parents in his or her life. Intangible benefits are understandable, such as the security of knowing that both parents love and care for the child enough to be in his or life. In addition, the ability to learn from and share memories with both parents will expand a child’s consciousness.

Tangible benefits that a child receives from having both parents present in their life may include having financial support from both, including medical insurance and the cost of attending college. A child may also be eligible for hereditary benefits—such as scholarships for the children of veterans—if the child has a legally recognized relationship with the person in question.

Call Us for Help

Ensuring that your child has both parents in their life is an important aspect of parenting, and it can -make a critical difference for your future as well as that of your child. If you have questions about the paternity process, contact a Rolling Meadows family law attorney. Call 847-253-3100 for a free consultation at Cosley Law Office today.



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