Key Things You Should Know About Establishing Paternity

Key Things You Should Know About Establishing Paternity

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

There are many reasons a person may want to establish paternity. Sometimes a birth mother may want to establish paternity in order to force the child’s father to pay child support. At the same time, many fathers seek to establish paternity in order to have parental responsibilities and rights, including significant decision-making responsibilities and parenting time. Yet there are other reasons to establish paternity, too. There are many details you need to know if you want to establish paternity in the Chicago area. The following are key things you should know about establishing paternity in Illinois.

Illinois Law Governs Paternity Issues in the Chicago area

The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 (750 ILCS 46/) governs most matters related to paternity in Illinois. According to the statute, the following is the public policy of Illinois: “Illinois recognizes the right of every child to the physical, mental, emotional, and financial support of his or her parents.” The statute also clarifies that “the parent-child relationship, including support obligations, extends equally to every child and to his or her parent or to each of his or her two parents, regardless of the legal relationship of the parents, and regardless of whether a parent is a minor.”

You will Need to Establish Paternity in Order to Obtain Parental Rights or Child Support

People need to establish paternity in order to obtain parental rights or to require the other parent to contribute to the child support obligation.

Establishing Paternity Can Be Important for Reasons Beyond Parental Rights or Child Support

Beyond parental responsibilities and child support, there are many other reasons that establishing paternity can be important. For example, a child may want or need to obtain information about his/her medical history. Establishing paternity can also give a child certain financial security, including rights to an inheritance or to certain types of benefits (like Veteran’s benefits or Social Security benefits).

Illinois Recognizes Three Ways of Establishing Paternity

Illinois recognizes three different ways of establishing paternity:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form both parents complete and sign, and which is properly witnessed and filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services;
  • Administrative Paternity Order establishes paternity and is entered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Child Support Services; or
  • Mental health treatment preference declaration; and
  • Order of Paternity established in a court.

To be clear, a VAP is something parents who are not married sign in order to establish paternity. There are multiple places to obtain a VAP form.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) Forms Can Be Rescinded

If one of the parents changes his/her mind about signing the VAP, it is possible to rescind. To do so, a parent must complete a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, or a Rescission of Denial of Parentage. However, this must be done within 60 days of the date the parent initially signed the VAP form.

Accordingly, proper completion of a VAP form is not an absolute guarantee that no future paternity issues or questions of a support obligation will arise.

Contact a Paternity Lawyer in Chicago and Northeast Illinois

Establishing paternity is complicated, and you should always have a dedicated attorney on your side who can assist you. If you have questions about establish paternity or need help with a paternity case, an experienced Chicago paternity lawyer at our firm can get started on your case today. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC to speak with a Chicago area family law attorney, with offices in Chicago and Skokie, Illinois.