In many cases, when a child is born, the identity of the parents is known. If a child’s mother is married, her spouse will be presumed to be the child’s legal parent. If a mother is unmarried, paternity may be established by submitting a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form. However, there may be some cases in which the identity of the child’s biological father is in doubt, or a person who is presumed to be a child’s father or who has signed a VAP may later find out that they are not the child’s biological father. In these cases, parents will need to understand the procedures that must be followed to dispute paternity.
Denial of Presumed Parentage
A man is presumed to be a child’s parent if he was married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth or if the couple was divorced or legally separated within 300 days before the child was born. If a presumed father believes that he is not the child’s biological father, he can sign a denial of parentage document. However, a denial of paternity will only be valid if the child’s biological father has signed a VAP and the presumed father has not previously signed a VAP or been adjudicated as the child’s father in family court.
Challenging a VAP
In some cases, a man who believes he is a child’s father may voluntarily acknowledge paternity, only to learn at a later date that someone else is the biological father. Within 60 days after signing a VAP, a person may rescind their voluntary acknowledgment by signing a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity and submitting it in family court. After the 60-day period, a person will need to challenge a VAP in court, and they will need to do so within two years after the VAP was signed.
A VAP may only be challenged based on fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact. Fraud may involve misrepresentation by a child’s mother in which a man was informed that he was a child’s father when this was not true. Duress may involve threats or coercion to force a man to voluntarily acknowledge paternity. A material mistake of fact may occur if one or both parties honestly believed that a man was a child’s father, but another person was the actual biological father.
Contact Our DuPage County Denial of Paternity Lawyers
Paternity cases can be complex from both a legal and emotional standpoint. If you have been named the father of a child, but you believe that you are not the biological father, you will want to understand your legal options and determine how you can protect your rights while ensuring that the child’s best interests will be provided for. To schedule a consultation with the Naperville family law attorneys of Calabrese Associates, P.C. and learn how we can help with your case, call our office at 630-393-3111.