November 13, 2015
The legal relationship between a father and his child is called paternity. Paternity laws in Illinois are complicated and counter-intuitive. Numerous clients and potential clients contact us requesting assistance in establishing paternity, after being frustrated trying to figure it out alone.
According to Illinois law, if the mother is married at the time the child was either conceived or born, then the spouse is presumed to be the father of the child, and has to prove otherwise if disputing paternity. If, however, the mother is not married at the time the child was conceived or is born, then the named father is considered only the “alleged father”.
There are a few ways for interested parties to establish paternity. One way is through a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity(“VAP”) form, which both parents complete, sign, and have witnessed and dated. This is the easiest way to establish paternity, and the VAP can be filled out at the hospital at the time of childbirth. There are instructions on the form, and an explanation of parental rights and responsibilities. Parents usually do not need legal assistance with this.
Another way is by having an order of paternity entered in court by a judge. We are usually called when parties need to go through HFS or the court system to establish paternity. For anybody who requires assistance establishing paternity using any of these three methods, free assistance is available by the state of Illinois. If, however, you have exhausted your options and would like paternity and child support attorneys to help you establish paternity, through whatever method you choose, we are standing by to assist you.
It is important to have the paternity relationship established for a number of reasons. First, every child deserves the benefits that derive from a legal father-child relationship, and every mother and father deserve this as well. Second, establishing paternity protects the rights of both parents. It provides the mother with a method to obtain child support so she is not the sole person responsible for the welfare of the child. It provides the father with access to the child, and access to medical information that he would otherwise not be entitled to. Establishing paternity also secures any possible future benefits the child may be entitled to if the father dies, such as Social Security, veterans’ benefits, and inheritance.
If you are unable to establish paternity through use of a VAP and have exhausted all of your other options, you need an experienced family law attorney. We can help establish paternity either through an HFS Order or if necessary, a court Order. If you are located in the Chicago metro area, the Lake Forest area, or in Lyle and would like to discuss your options for establishing paternity, please contact our offices today to schedule a courtesy consultation.