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Naperville IL paternity attorneyFor many parents, the identity of a child’s father is not in question. In fact, under Illinois law, a mother’s spouse is presumed to be her child’s legal parent, as long as the child was born during the couple’s marriage or within 300 days after the couple was separated, got divorced, or one partner died. However, this means that if a child is born while a couple is unmarried, or if a situation does not meet the criteria described above, paternity will need to be established to ensure that the father will be recognized as the child’s legal parent. Paternity may also need to be addressed if the identity of a child’s father is in doubt or is known to be someone other than the mother’s spouse.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

The simplest and most common way of establishing paternity is for both parents to fill out and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form, which can be done at any time after their child is born. This form can be provided by a hospital, and it is also available on the website of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, at a local county clerk’s office, and other sources. By filling out this form, the parents will both recognize that a man is the child’s father. This will allow him to be listed on the child’s birth certificate, and he will have full parental rights regarding the child.

Paternity can also be voluntarily acknowledged if the biological father is a person other than the child’s presumed parent. In these cases, the presumed father may submit a Denial of Parentage form, and the biological parents may submit a VAP. The mother, the presumed father, or the child may also submit a petition in court to declare the nonexistence of the parent-child relationship. This type of legal action must be initiated within two years after the petitioner knew or should have known the facts of the case. For example, a presumed father must file this type of petition within two years after he first discovers that he is not a child’s biological father.

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Posted on in Paternity

Contesting Your Paternity of a ChildEstablishing paternity after a child is born is important for all parties involved. The father gains the allocation of parental responsibilities. If the parents are not together, the mother can collect child support from the father. The child knows who his or her father is and can decide whether to pursue a relationship later in life. The father is most often the mother’s current or most recent romantic partner, but there are exceptions. A presumed father who believes he is not the biological father must make a choice: 

  • If no one else claims paternity, he can accept responsibility as the child’s legal father; or
  • He can deny his paternity, which may require going to court.

Unmarried Men

If your current or former girlfriend has a child out of wedlock, you can legally establish yourself as the father by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. However, you should wait on signing the document if you have a reasonable doubt that you are the father. Once you have signed a VAP, you have 60 days to cancel it. After that, a court will rescind your paternity only if you can prove you signed the document under fraudulent circumstances or duress. If you refuse to sign a VAP, the mother may take you to court to establish paternity. The court will determine whether you are the father and what parental responsibilities and obligations to assign to you.

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