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November 05, 2019

Encouraging Men in Fatherhood 

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If you had a child and were unmarried at the time or otherwise not in a serious relationship with the father, you may find yourself assuming the role of both mom and dad in your life as a single parent. While plenty of women adjust to this situation and are successful in raising healthy, happy children, establishing paternity is important. There are a variety of reasons why you may want to encourage the father to get involved.

Benefits of Formally Establishing Paternity

If you were unmarried at the time you gave birth to your child, the father’s name might not be on the birth certificate. In this case, establishing paternity is the first step. Under the Illinois Statutes, there are three primary ways to do this: 

  • Automatically through marriage: If the mother is married, her husband is automatically assumed to be the father. 
  • Voluntary Acknowledgement: Fathers can fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form, acknowledging their relationship to the child;
  • Through a court order: You can initiate paternity proceedings through the Illinois Family Court, in which DNA testing will be conducted to determine if the person named is the father. 

In cases of single parents, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is the ideal scenario. However, you should not hesitate to initiate paternity proceedings against the father is he is unwilling to sign. In addition to entitling you to child support, this can allow for access to important medical history and establishes the child as an heir to the father’s estate. It could also entitle them to benefits through the Social Security Administration or Veteran’s Affairs. 

Encouraging Your Child’s Father

According to research conducted by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (fatherhood.gov), children benefit when fathers are active and engaged in their lives. Mother’s benefit as well from the financial and emotional support fathers can provide. However, other than obtaining court-ordered child support, there is no way you can force a man to be an active, engaged, and loving father to your child. At the same time, there are steps you can take to encourage this relationship: 

  • Be willing to leave personal problems in the past. 
  • Accept that just because the relationship did not work out, he may still make a good parent for your child. 
  • Make an effort to communicate calmly and avoid bad-mouthing him in front of your child. 
  • Be willing to negotiate on matters such as visitation, provided it is in your child’s best interests. 

Our Chicago Paternity Attorneys are Here to Help

As experienced Chicago area paternity attorneys, the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group can help you navigate this potentially difficult situation. Call or contact our office online and request a consultation to discuss the details in your case. 

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