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The Importance of Acknowledging Paternity

 Posted on August 14, 2017 in Paternity

DuPage County paternity lawyersIn Illinois, most of the time, paternity is not assumed when a child is born to unmarried parents. In most such cases, it must be affirmatively acknowledged. It is imperative that you understand how the law applies to your situation so that you do not wind up with limited rights to see your children. A failure to acknowledge paternity at the appropriate time can severely restrict your right not only to see them, but to exercise your rights with regard to their lives and welfare.

How to Acknowledge Paternity

The procedure to formally acknowledge paternity differs, depending on whether or not you are married to the child’s mother. If you are married to her, you are by law presumed to be the father of any children born to her during your marriage, unless you complete a Denial of Paternity form at the appropriate time (usually immediately following the child’s birth). If you are not married to her but she is married to someone else, her husband must complete the Denial of Paternity. In addition, both you and the mother must sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Failure to do so will place the husband by default as the father. If neither you nor the mother is currently married, you must both complete the VAP, but there is generally less of a hurry.

If a VAP is not signed, you may be summoned by Illinois Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to participate in an administrative paternity hearing. The state agency will determine parentage based on evidence provided, so if you have a vested interest in accepting paternity, it is in your best interests to provide all possible information. Be advised that if you do not show up to the hearing, you may be named the child’s legal father by default.

Advantages to Paternity

Many are unaware that there are distinct advantages to acknowledging paternity versus not doing so. In Illinois, for example, without acknowledging paternity, a father may not be added to his child’s birth certificate. In many situations, a lack of established paternity means that the father may not have any rights to make decisions for that child, such as in medical emergencies. Another situation where paternity matters is if you are a veteran or receive other benefit that could also be available to your child. If you do not acknowledge paternity, your child may not be eligible to receive such benefits based on your qualifications.

That said, however, it is not a good idea to acknowledge paternity unless you are certain, as a VAP can only be rescinded in specific situations. Also, there are occasions during which you may be held to be a child’s legal father by default, such as if you fail to show up for an interview with HFS.

A Family Law Attorney Can Help

If there have been problems or irregularities in the process of asserting paternity of your children, you should contact an experienced Naperville family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 for a confidential consultation with Pesce Law Group, P.C. today.


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