Many families take the concept of “paternity” for granted, assuming that the identity of the father is assumed and not under consideration. However, some families do not have this luxury. When parents are unmarried at the time of their child’s birth, the father will not always be automatically assumed to be the child’s legal parent. From a parenting standpoint, this may not be an issue for the mother, but there are many benefits that come along with legally recognizing a child’s father.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Legally naming a person as a child’s father can have both emotional and financial benefits. On the personal side of things, most children want to know their biological parents, whether they openly express this or not. Not knowing their father’s identity can leave a lingering question in the back of their minds. Some mothers or children may fear that knowing a father’s identity requires the child to have a relationship with him. However, even if a child does not want a relationship with their father, it can still be beneficial to know who they are to resolve this internal questioning.
Financially, every child has a right to receive support from both of their biological parents. Children are entitled to child support to ensure that their ongoing needs are met. Depending on their father’s occupation and insurance coverage, children may also be eligible to receive health insurance benefits. Children are also eligible to receive any Social Security benefits, Veteran’s benefits, or an inheritance upon their father’s death.
If you wish to establish legal parentage for your child, you typically have one of two paths you can follow:
- Voluntary acknowledgment: In the best case scenario, both the mother and father have voluntarily agreed to establish paternity. Upon doing so, the father is agreeing to accept responsibility for the child and help financially support them, and he will have the right to be involved in the child’s life and have a reasonable amount of parenting time. If a father is present at the time of the child’s birth, the parents can both sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” document (VAP) while at the hospital. A VAP can also be signed at a later date, and it can then be submitted to any local registrar of vital records, county clerk’s office, child support services office, or local Department of Human Services office.
- Administrative or judicial order: If one parent will not voluntarily cooperate with the process, a parent, child, or other interested party can take action to establish paternity either through an administrative process conducted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or by filing a petition to establish paternity in family court. In these cases, genetic testing will typically be used to determine whether the alleged father is the child’s biological father. If an administrative paternity order or court order is entered establishing paternity, the man will then be considered the child’s legal parent.
Call an Oak Park Paternity Lawyer For Help
All children deserve the rights to know the identity of their father, to receive financial support and other benefits, and to understand their family history. The Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C. is dedicated to helping every family resolve their legal issues. Whether you need to legally establish a parent-child relationship, or ensure that your child’s needs are met, we can provide representation and help you meet your requirements, and we will work to protect your rights throughout the legal process. If you need help establishing paternity, contact our Hillside family law attorney with 32 years of experience at 708-449-7404 to schedule a free consultation.