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I Am Single and Going to Be a Father. Is Paternity Important?

 Posted on October 06, 2023 in Family Law

Palatine, IL paternity lawyerWhen a married couple has a baby in the State of Illinois, the woman who gives birth is automatically considered the mother, and her husband is automatically considered the father. This definition is very matter-of-fact and does not have much impact on the family. However, when a couple is not married and they have a baby, things can become a bit more complicated. The woman who gives birth is still automatically considered the mother, but the baby’s father needs to prove his paternity, meaning that he is the biological father.

Whether or not someone is legally considered a child’s father has a lot of ramifications. This determines if a man has certain obligations to the child and mother, such as the requirement to make child support and spousal support payments. It also determines whether the man has any rights relating to the child, such as visitation and decision-making. If you are not married, about to welcome a baby, and are concerned that your rights as a father may not be protected, an Arlington Heights, IL paternity lawyer can explain the specifics of why you may want to officially and legally prove your paternity.

Why Should I Establish My Paternity?

If a married couple has children, both spouses are automatically considered the children’s parents. If they later get divorced, the parents each have their established role, and the division of their parental responsibilities needs to be decided in a divorce settlement. But if they never got married in the first place, it can be more complicated for the father.

In many cases, if the father’s paternity has not been established and he is not interested in maintaining his parental rights and responsibilities, it can be difficult for the mother to prove that he should pay her child support. But if the father wants to be involved, is willing and able to make child support payments, and has somewhat of a communicative relationship with the mother, why would establishing paternity matter?

  • It can benefit the father: If the father is legally recognized as the child’s parent, he will be able to protect his rights to parental responsibilities (including visitation and decision-making).

  • It can benefit the mother: If the dynamics of the relationship change and the two parents are unable to effectively communicate in the future, the child will still have two legally recognized parents. This can impact the enforcement of child support payments but also means that the mother is not the only court-recognized adult who can raise the child.

  • It can benefit the child: Being legally recognized as your child’s father means that your child will have access to important medical information about you, and will be eligible for any inheritance or death benefits (social security funds, insurance policies, pensions, etc.) that may be in your name.

How Is Paternity Established?

There are several ways one can establish their parentage in the State of Illinois:

  • Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP): This document must be signed by both parents, witnessed, and filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). This can be done at any time in the child’s life, from when the child is born, and once it is processed, the father’s name will be written on the birth certificate.

  • Administrative Order of Paternity: This type of paternity order is established by HFS and entered into court. Child Support Services, an Illinois governmental organization, can require the father to submit to genetic testing.

  • Judicial Paternity Order: This is obtained through a court case, and also generally carried out after performing genetic testing.

Call an Arlington Heights, IL Paternity Lawyer

If you are worried about your parental rights, an experienced Arlington Heights, IL divorce lawyer may have answers to your pressing questions. Call A. Traub & Associates at 847-749-4182 today to find out how you can protect your parental rights.

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