One might assume that if they were to conceive a child with a woman to whom they are not married that you would automatically be considered the father in the eyes of the law. However, Illinois law requires more.
Even if you signed a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP), you may not be granted visitation or custodial rights. In order to receive many of the legal rights of a father (like custody of the child or visitation), you must prove to the courts that you are biologically the father of the child.
At Diamond Divorce Law, we have decades of experience helping Illinois clients and families successfully navigate through family law issues ranging from paternity to custody and divorce. Read on to learn from our experienced family law attorneys about Illinois paternity laws.
Why Paternity Is Important
Under Illinois law, paternity is a legal relationship between a father and his child. Along with this legal relationship comes some very important rights and privileges.
Among the first privileges is that your name will be entered on the child’s birth certificate as the father. Practically speaking, if the father is present during birth, he signs a VAP. If he is not present and thus not likely named on the birth certificate, I, as attorney, have to obtain an order stating that a new birth certificate be issued.
In addition to this public recognition as the father, paternity also grants you the right to spend time with your child. Like all other states, Illinois acknowledges that a child benefits most from relationships with both parents.
More than spending time with the child, paternity also empowers the father to make certain decisions about the child’s upbringing. This may include education, health care, religion or extracurricular activities.
Finally, paternity also establishes a financial responsibility. If you have custody of the child less than half of the time, then you will probably be required to pay child support. The exact amount you must provide will depend on the following factors:
- Father’s income
- Mother’s income
- Amount of time spent with child
- Whether support is paid for a child of a different relationship
- Health insurance premium paid out of pocket
In most circumstances, child support must be provided until the child turns 18 years of age. If the child enrolls in college, the father may be required to pay for a part of the tuition and other college-related fees.
Ways of Proving Paternity in Illinois
With so much riding on paternity, it is logical that the state would demand certainty in establishing such a relationship. In Illinois, there are several ways that paternity can be proven.
If you are married to the mother of the child, then you are presumed to be the biological father. However, if you are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth, then you may need to file additional paperwork.
The first document you must complete is the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. After filling out and signing the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, you must file it with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
The VAP creates a basis for child support. If you learn within 60 days after filing the VAP that you are not the father of the child, then you may file a Rescission of Denial of Parentage. Before doing this, however, it’s important to be very sure you are not the father as a Rescission of Denial of Parentage vacates all of your rights to the child.
If there is some uncertainty about the child’s parentage, then a DNA paternity test can be performed. These tests are typically about 99.9% accurate. Due to the exceptional accuracy of such tests, the courts will accept the outcome without question.
Contact Diamond Divorce Law for legal help with paternity issues
If you need legal advice or representation about paternity, child custody or child support, feel free to contact our trusted family attorneys at Diamond Divorce Law. Contact us today for a free consultation.
DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, we urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.