Are you a Father? Here’s Why You Should Establish Paternity

In Illinois, if a child’s parents are not married when the child is born or are in a civil union, the father is not considered the legal father of the child. The father’s name cannot be added to the child’s birth certificate until paternity is legally established.

The Importance of Establishing Paternity

Paternity, which is the legal relationship between a father and his child, is important for many reasons beyond having a name on the birth certificate. By establishing paternity, the child gains rights which include the following and more:

  • Health insurance benefits
  • Life insurance benefits
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Right to child support
  • Right to inheritance
  • Social security benefits from a father that is disabled or passes away
  • Access to the father’s family medical history

Legal Rights of the Father

When paternity is established, the father receives rights to the child, which include:

  • Right to pursue child custody and make decisions regarding the child’s well-being
  • Right to contest the child’s adoption
  • Responsibility for providing child support in some situations

How to Establish Paternity in Illinois

Illinois offers four mechanisms for establishing paternity:

  • Marriage: if the father is married, Illinois law presumes that the man is the father of the woman’s child
  • Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form: a legal document that is used to establish paternity for unwed parents. Any biological parent may sign the VAP, including minors without the consent of a parent or guardian and non-U.S. citizens, provided that the child was born in the United States
  • Administrative Paternity Order: through Illinois Child Support Services, which is most frequently used in cases where the mother is seeking child support from the child’s father
  • Judicial Paternity Order: a process whereby the court establishes who the father is

Questions about paternity and your rights as a father? Speak with an experienced Illinois paternity attorney.