Why it is Important to Establish Paternity

Most people are familiar with the concept of paternity, partly because at some point in time they have been channel surfing on television and have been lucky enough to catch an enthralling episode of the Jerry Springer show, on which the outcome of a paternity test is dramatically revealed.

Although finding out the identity of a child’s father is often glorified on daytime talk shows for entertainment purposes, it is also crucial to validate an existing parenting bond with a child or to provide a father with a reason to create a new one. In addition, paternity establishes a person’s legal right as a dad and should be determined before other family law issues, such as custody, parenting time, and child support, can be resolved.

Three Ways to Establish Paternity

According to Illinois law, when a couple is married at the time the baby is conceived and born, the husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child. If the parents of the child were not married, then the father of the child must establish paternity before he can be considered the legal father and sign the child’s birth certificate. Establishing paternity is important for not only peace of mind but so that the child is eligible for certain benefits from his father, such as health insurance and inheritance. In Illinois, there are three ways to establish paternity:

  • Both the mother and father can sign and date a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form accompanied with the signature of a witness. Parents usually complete this form at the hospital when the baby is born. However, the VAP form can be completed at any time after the child is born to unmarried parents. A parent can rescind the VAP within 60 days of signing it as long as the parent signs and completes a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form that is dated and witnessed;
  • The State of Illinois’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) can enter an administrative paternity order; or
  • A court or judge can enter a paternity order.

In situations where a parent is unsure who the father is, a paternity test can accurately determine the answer. A paternity test compares the DNA of the mother, the child, and the alleged father to determine whether the man is the biological father. The DNA sample is usually collected by swabbing the inside of the man’s cheek and is then tested.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Family Law Attorney

If you want to establish paternity or compel the biological father of your child to submit to a paternity test in the Wheaton area, contact one of our Wheaton paternity lawyers at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. to help guide you through the process. Establishing paternity is an important step in securing important rights for your child and can be a complicated process, depending on your situation.