Paternity cases can be tricky. Because the parents of the minor child are not married many assume that the Illinois marriage and dissolution of marriage act does not apply to them. However, it does, and that can have big implications. That is why each parent needs to select the best Chicago divorce lawyer with the experience necessary to navigate the field of paternity, which will ultimately include parental responsibilities and parental allocation of parenting time and decision-making for the minor child. Let’s start with establishing paternity with the myths and the truths in family law Chicago courts.
If the Father is present at the birth of the child, he should be provided with the option to sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (also known as a “VAP”) at the hospital. This document is legally binding, enforceable and very difficult to overturn. It is only provided at the hospital, so it is not something you can get or sign at a later date. If there is any doubt whatsoever that the father is not that of the minor child, then the document should not be signed by the alleged father. Further, many people mistakenly believe that including a father’s name on the birth certificate is sufficient to establish father’s rights and paternal rights, which is not the case. Even if the father has the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity executed and a copy in his possession (which is required by the courts) then the parties must still proceed to court to have the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity reviewed and a subsequent court order entered establishing his relationship to the minor child, as the Father. If the parties do not have a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity then the court will order a DNA test through a court-approved facility. Unfortunately, over-the-counter DNA tests are not admissible. Once paternity is established either through acceptance of the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or DNA test by the court then the next step is oftentimes addressing financial issues relating to the minor child such as support, contribution to medical, care, education, extracurricular, and the like along with parenting time for each of the parties and input into decision-making for the minor child.
This relationship comes with both financial and other obligations such as rights to parenting time and decision making regarding major issues that will affect the minor child such as medical, educational, religion, and extracurricular.
Reach out to the Chicago family law attorneys of Ward Family Law, LLC for a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
If you would like an attorney to contact you for a free consultation, please complete this form.