Establishing paternity is important for the child involved and for both the mother and father. If you are a father of a child born to a woman to whom you are not married, it’s important to recognize that being on a birth certificate does not automatically award you parental rights., You must either sign off on a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, also known as a VAP, at the Hospital and then you can petition the court, who must still enter an order designating you as the legal parent to proceed with requests for parenting time, decision-making and child support. Issues related to paternity are simply too important not to retain the professional legal counsel of an experienced Chicago paternity attorney.
One way to establish paternity if you are not married to the child’s mother is by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) that must be signed by both parents (in front of a witness). A VAP allows you to bypass the court in your effort to establish paternity, and it can be entered into any time before or after your child is born. If the mother is married to someone else who is not the child in question’s father, he will need to sign a Voluntary Denial of Parentage before you and your child’s mother can sign the VAP. A VAP is very difficult to undo and shouldn’t be entered into lightly by either parent. While the VAP instigates child support arrangements through the state, it does not address the matter of visitation or parental rights.
Whether you or your child’s mother initiates a paternity case, the court is very likely to require and facilitate a DNA test (at a reduced cost) to establish or confirm paternity. Because it is so difficult to override a VAP, establishing paternity in this manner is generally considered advisable.
Once you’ve established your paternity, you can request parental rights and child custody arrangements – or a visitation schedule – through the court. This process is very much like a child custody modification (because you are requesting a modification to your child’s mother’s current sole custody). This process can be daunting, and you are well-advised to work closely with an established Chicago paternity attorney.
When you establish paternity of your child, everyone wins. Consider the following:
If you need to establish paternity of your child – and to pursue your parental rights – the dedicated Chicago paternity attorneys at WARD FAMILY LAW understand how important this is to you and your child and are committed to skillfully championing your parental rights. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
I knew we were going to have a custody battle from day one. It was going to be mean and messy and expensive and long. I did not know if I could handle it but I had to do it for my kids. Jennifer litigated my case to the end - we had an attorney for the kids, we had psych evaluations, we had reports for the Judge, we had court date after court date. She was strategic, smart, planned well ahead, and kept on top of everything. Thanks to her and her legal eagles my kids are in a…
We were not married but had two kids and we were both listed as the parents on the birth certificates. What I did not know at the time was that the birth certificate (for parents who are not married) does not count in Chicago! You have to have a paternity test or have signed some special paperwork at the hospital that we did not know about at the time. Ward Family Law prepared the court filings so that we could establish our parental rights. Thank you!
At the end of my divorce case I realized that the paperwork required us to provide the court with a Qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) in order for our retirement and investment accounts to be divided as we had agreed. The problem was that we did not have them done in time. Jennifer and her team stepped in and handled contacting the plan administrators, completing the draft QDROs, submitting them for pre-approval of everyone and then presenting them to the court. While we had hoped this was super easy there were a lot of steps and a lot of things…
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