Paternity formally establishes the father-child relationship and creates a number of rights and responsibilities. Identifying the father of a child can help you determine custody or visitation rights, as well as the father’s obligation to pay child support.

You may want to get in touch with a Frankfort lawyer at Reidy Law Office LLC if you could become involved in a dispute involving paternity. Whether you are attempting to establish paternity or contest it, it can be highly advantageous for you to have an experienced attorney on your side throughout the process.

How to Establish Paternity

If a child is born out of wedlock in Illinois, the biological father will not be considered the legal father until paternity can be established. State law provides three ways for that to be accomplished.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity

This simplest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP) form, which is typically provided to unmarried parents at the hospital after their child is born. Signing the VAP form means that both parents agree the man is the child’s biological father and that both accept responsibility to financially support the child.

Administrative Paternity Order

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has an interest in making sure that children in Illinois are being financially supported by both of their legal parents. As such, HFS has the authority to enter an Administrative Paternity Order to establish paternity. It can also compel the mother and presumed father of a child to submit to genetic testing.

Paternity Action

A third way to establish paternity is through the judicial process. A paternity action can be brought by a child, the child’s mother, the child’s alleged father, or a government agency that has custody of or provides financial support to the child. In a paternity action, a judge will decide whether a person is the child’s biological and legal father.

Reasons to Prove Fatherhood

A person may have any number of different reasons for wanting to establish paternity. A woman, for example, understandably might want to have paternity established so that both she and her child can have access to the father’s financial resources. The following reasons commonly prompt someone to begin the process of having paternity established:

  • The mother will have access to additional finances resources to help her meet the many considerable costs that are associated with raising a child
  • The child may be able to, through the father, qualify for benefits such as social security, health insurance, and inheritance rights
  • The child can have the support of both a mother and a father
  • The child will have access to the medical histories of both their mother’s and father’s families

You should be careful to remember that while establishing paternity does have many advantages, doing so has very little bearing on child custody and visitation. Those matters are typically addressed separately by a judge and always based on whatever is in the best interests of the child.

Contact a Frankfort Paternity Attorney Today

Establishing paternity can be beneficial not just for your child but for you as well. However, there are times when establishing paternity may not be in your best interests. A Frankfort lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons of establishing paternity.