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Oak Park family law attorney paternity

When a couple is married and they have a baby, it is presumed that the man is the legal father of the child. However, when two people are not married, paternity (parentage) has to be legally established before the father is eligible for specific parental rights, and before the child is entitled to certain benefits. Studies have shown that children thrive most when they have a relationship with both of their parents, so confirming parentage is important for everyone’s best interests and well-being of all parties. Establishing parentage for children born out of wedlock can also help provide a basis for obtaining child support payments, and for fathers, it may be necessary for the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and can allow them to be more involved in their child’s life moving forward.

Legally Recognizing Parentage 

In Illinois, when parents are in agreement on who the father of the child is, both parties can fill out and sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” (VAP) form, which legally establishes parentage. In situations where the parents do not agree on the father’s identity, they can do either one of the following:

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Oak Park family law attorney child custody

In today’s world, families come in all shapes and sizes, including parents who are not married. As an unmarried father, you may be wondering what your rights are with regard to your child. Historically, mothers have taken on the role of primary parent and caregiver. Illinois courts, however, often favor having both parents involved in the child’s life, so long as this is what is best for the child. If you are not married to your child’s mother, and do not intend to be, there are a few steps that you should take to be sure that your rights as a father are protected.

Establishing Paternity

Before any custody decisions are made, you have to legally establish yourself as the child’s father. For fathers who are married, this is accomplished by signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” (“VAP”) form. The law assumes that a mother’s husband is the father of her child, and both parties recognize that this is true by signing a “VAP”. For parents who are not married, proving paternity requires a few additional steps. It is often advisable for unmarried fathers to obtain proof of their biological connection to their child. This involves taking a DNA paternity test to provide the court with proof of your connection to your child, and to ensure that your rights as the child’s father are upheld.

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Hillside paternity attorneyMany families take the concept of “paternity” for granted, assuming that the identity of the father is assumed and not under consideration. However, some families do not have this luxury. When parents are unmarried at the time of their child’s birth, the father will not always be automatically assumed to be the child’s legal parent. From a parenting standpoint, this may not be an issue for the mother, but there are many benefits that come along with legally recognizing a child’s father.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Legally naming a person as a child’s father can have both emotional and financial benefits. On the personal side of things, most children want to know their biological parents, whether they openly express this or not. Not knowing their father’s identity can leave a lingering question in the back of their minds. Some mothers or children may fear that knowing a father’s identity requires the child to have a relationship with him. However, even if a child does not want a  relationship with their father, it can still be beneficial to know who they are to resolve this internal questioning.

Financially, every child has a right to receive support from both of their biological parents. Children are entitled to child support to ensure that their ongoing needs are met. Depending on their father’s occupation and insurance coverage, children may also be eligible to receive health insurance benefits. Children are also eligible to receive any Social Security benefits, Veteran’s benefits, or an inheritance upon their father’s death.

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Oak Park paternity lawyer DNA testingAccuracy is essential when it comes to the paternity of a child. What the future may hold for a child is often at stake, in addition to any pending marital, custody, or support issues. An accurate test enables the child to have a bond with a paternal figure, a relationship that is proven to have numerous benefits for the child even after they enter into adulthood. However, before you grab a paternity test at your local drug store, you will want to consider the accuracy rate of such testing.

How Paternity Tests Work

During the conception of a child, the first cell contains DNA which consists of a series of chromosomes, half from the mother and half from the father. This cell divides, and then those cells divide continuously to eventually form the child. In fact, those cells continue to divide to create new cells throughout the entire life of the child, which is how new skin is formed, and more. 

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Illinois family law attorneyIn a marriage, the paternity of a child is automatically established.  But this is not the case when the biological parents are unmarried. In that situation, the father is deemed an “alleged father” until he and the mother either acknowledge paternity, or receive a confirmation of paternity, either through the courts or through the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Learn more about establishing paternity in Illinois, including how it can be done and why you should do it, and discover why the assistance of an experienced family law attorney should be obtained.

Why Establish Paternity?

At first glance, the purpose of establishing paternity may seem to be about money, because a father may be obligated to pay child support if he and the biological mother are not residing together. However, fathers can also reap benefits if they pursue an establishment of paternity. For example, fathers can still have the right to pursue custody of their children, should the mother ever lose her parental rights or become incapacitated for any reason. Fathers can also seek parenting time and an allocation of parental responsibilities, both of which give them bonding time and decision-making power in the life of their child.

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