Should I Sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in Illinois?

Arlington Heights paternity lawyerProving paternity allows biological fathers to exercise their parental rights and be involved in their child’s life. Unmarried fathers can face many challenges in their efforts to establish legal paternity, especially if there is conflict or uncertainty surrounding their parentage. Illinois offers an option called a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) that can make the process easier, but it is not always as simple as signing a form. Before you sign a VAP, you should be sure that you understand the implications and the possible complications that may arise.

What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

A VAP is essentially an agreement in written form in which both the child’s mother and purported father acknowledge that the man is the legal father of the child. Parents can complete a VAP at the hospital upon the child’s birth, or at any point after the birth by obtaining the form from an Illinois Registrar, County Clerk, or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). In order for the VAP to be legally valid, it must be signed, witnessed, and filed with HFS. Once the form is filed, the man is considered to have a legal parent-child relationship, granting him certain parental rights and responsibilities, including the duty to contribute to child support.

Complications With the VAP Process

If you are certain that you are the child’s father and you want to be part of your child’s life, signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is often a great option, provided that the child’s mother also agrees. However, there can be some difficulties even with this relatively straightforward process. A couple of complications to consider include:

  • Uncertainty regarding the child’s parentage. Even if you are fully committed to raising and supporting the child, it may be unwise to sign a VAP if you are not certain that you are the child’s biological father. Doing so could lead to personal and legal complications later on, especially if the actual biological father comes forward. Before acknowledging your paternity, you can request a DNA test to confirm whether you are, in fact, the child’s father.

  • The existence of another presumed father. Under Illinois law, a man who is married to the child’s mother at the time of birth, or whose marriage to the mother ended within 300 days of the child’s birth, is automatically presumed to be the child’s legal father. However, a man who meets these criteria is not always the biological father. If you know that you are the biological father, and you and the mother both agree to sign a VAP, you will still need to obtain a signed denial of parentage from a man who is presumed to be the father in order to complete the processes of establishing your paternity.

If information comes to light soon after you sign a VAP that indicates that you are not the child’s father, keep in mind that you do have the option to file a rescission of the VAP within 60 days of when it becomes effective.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Paternity Lawyer

At the Cosley Law Office, we know how important it is for unmarried men to secure their rights as fathers, and we can help you determine whether a VAP is the best option and handle any legal challenges that you may face. Contact an Arlington Heights family law attorney today at 847-253-3100 to request a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=3638&ChapterID=59

https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/FormsBrochures/Pages/hfs3282.aspx

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