Determining the identity of the father may have important consequences for a child’s financial security, among other things. Illinois has paternity laws that help determine child support and other important rights for the child.
The legal relationship between the father and his child is known as paternity. A person is presumed to be the child’s father if he was married to the child’s mother or in a civil union with her within 300 days before the child’s birth.
The father is not considered as the legal father of a child if he is not married to the child’s mother or in a civil union with her. Even if the parents live together, the man does not meet the legal definition of being a father unless they were married or in a civil union within the required period. His name cannot be placed on the child’s birth certificate until paternity is established.
Paternity gives children rights such as access Social Security benefits from a dead or disabled parent, inheritances, any veteran’s benefits, health and life insurance benefits. Paternity may allow a child to gain access to medical information.
There are several methods for establishing paternity. First, both parents fill out and sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. The signatures must be witnessed and the VAP should be filed with the department of healthcare and family services.
Next, an administrative paternity order is established which is entered by HFS’s child support services. Third, a court enters an established order of paternity.
Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity
A VAP sets forth paternity for unwed parents. It will allow the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate after it is filed with HFS. But if the parents are unsure on the biological parent’s identity, they should not execute a VAP and utilize paternity testing instead.
Biological parents, including parents who are not married or in a civil union, may sign the VIP. Other parents eligible to sign are minors without the consent of a parent or guardian and non-citizens if the child was born in this country.
The parents must complete and sign the VAP in front of a witness who is at least 18 years-old and not named on the form. The VAP is valid when VHS accepts and files it.
Either parent can cancel the VAP after it is signed by completing a rescission form. It must be executed and filed with the department within 60 days from, whichever occurs first, the effective dates of the VAP or denial of parentage or the proceeding relating to the child. After 60 days, the rescission cannot be filed.
Child support and custody
Both parents have the duty of supporting their child after signing the VAP. A court may order either parent to pay child support and medical coverage. But it will order only one parent to pay child support to the other parent.
Courts will also make all decisions on child custody and visitation.
Paternity tests compare the DNA of the child, mother and presumptive father to determine whether the man is the child’s biological father. These tests are simple, effective and accurate. A DNA sample is taken by swabbing the inside of a person’s cheek.
An attorney can assist parents with this process and dealing with child support matters. They can also help assure that their rights and the child’s best interests are protected.