Establishing the paternity of a child born outside a marriage is important. For the child, it can be used for inheritance purposes and for claiming beneficiary rights under insurance policies. For an unmarried mother, only a court-verified father must pay child support in case of a split. Finally, fathers have the right to ask for both legal and physical custody of a biological child.

While Cook County family courts will always assume that a child born in wedlock or within 300 days of the end of a marriage is the product of that marriage, in other cases the parties must establish paternity. To establish paternity, the parents may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital or a family court judge may decide paternity within the limits of the law. A Cook County lawyer could help you settle your disputes over the paternity of a child.

The Legal Rights and Obligations of Fathers

Once paternity is established in Illinois, both mothers and fathers have an equal chance to establish custody over a child, exercise visitation rights, make decisions concerning that child’s future, and collect child support from a non-custodial parent.

A parent also has the responsibility to provide child support, keep a safe home for a child during all shared parenting time or visitation, and make responsible decisions concerning that child’s future. However, these rights and obligations only apply if there is proof that a person is the child’s parent.

Methods for Establishing Paternity

The most common way of establishing paternity is when the child is born during a marriage. In this situation the law assumes the husband in the relationship is the father. However, if there is a doubt as to the parentage of the child, either spouse may ask the court to decide the matter.

Another typical way to establish paternity is for both parents to complete a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP) form. When a father signs this form, both parents swear to the parentage of the child, and the male becomes the father in the eyes of the law and establishes certain responsibilities. However, it does not establish your rights. This means it is important to not sign a VAP form if there is any uncertainty as to whether you could be the father. Once you acknowledge paternity, it can be very difficult to reverse the statement. An attorney can help you determine whether signing a VAP is in your best interests.

A Cook County Attorney Can Discuss Paternity Issues with You

Being a father is one of the greatest roles that a person will play in the life of a child. The question of paternity is an important one for all members of a family. However, the rights that come with parenthood also come with certain obligations. Therefore, it may be important to consult an attorney prior to establishing paternity.

If you are a mother or potential father looking to answer questions concerning the paternity of your child, a Cook County lawyer from Reidy Law Office LLC could help. Our team can work to help you through any legal issues regarding paternity. Contact our office today to see how we could help you.