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Why Is Establishing Paternity Important?

 Posted on February 14, 2024 in Family Law

IL family lawyerIn the state of Illinois, any time a woman gives birth, she is automatically recognized as the baby’s mother, and if she is married at the time of birth, her husband is automatically recognized as the baby’s father by virtue of being married to her. It is a bit more complicated when a man has fathered a child with a woman he is not married to. In such a case, the woman giving birth will still be considered the baby’s mother automatically, but the man will need to establish paternity to be legally considered the father.

This can have a lot of implications for all of the people involved. It can significantly impact the mother, the father, and the child for years to come. If you are not married to a woman who is about to give birth to your baby, a Will County, IL paternity lawyer can guide you as you set out to establish your paternity.

Why Does Legal Parentage Matter in Illinois?

When a couple is married at the time of their child’s birth, they are recognized as the child’s parents, and their related rights and responsibilities are established automatically. If the couple gets a divorce after the birth, it does not change the fact that both spouses have legal parental claims. They will then need to make arrangements for all the ways they will continue to raise the child and be involved in their life once the marriage ends.

For unmarried parents, it is a bit more involved. The father will need to establish his paternity in order to be legally recognized as such. He can do this through:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP): When the father wants to be recognized as the child’s parent, both parents and a witness need to sign a VAP and then file it with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. This can happen anytime after the child is born. Once processed, the father’s name will be included on the child’s birth certificate, and he will be legally recognized as the father, entitled to parental rights and responsibilities.
  • Administrative Order of Paternity: When the father does not want to be recognized as the parent, the mother can file an Administrative Order of Paternity in court. The father might be required to undergo genetic testing to prove whether or not he is the biological father.
  • Judicial Paternity Order: Similar to an Administrative Order of Paternity, this also requires genetic testing. Such an order is obtained through the courts.

Three people can be significantly affected by the establishment of paternity:

  • The father will now have legally recognized rights and responsibilities. They can be granted visitation and be included in important decisions about the child.
  • The mother will have legal grounds to request child support from the father.
  • The child will be able to access the father’s medical records - including those related to genetic conditions - and be eligible for inheritance or death benefits in the father’s name.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Plainfield, IL Paternity Lawyer

If a child you fathered is about to be born and you want to ensure that your parental rights are protected, an experienced Will County, IL paternity attorney can help. Call Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C. at 815-666-1285 to schedule a free consultation.

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