When a child is born to married parents, that child’s biological parents are presumed by law. The biological mother of a child is obvious — it is whoever gave birth to the child. When it comes to the child’s biological father, any man who is married to the child’s biological mother at the time the child is born or within the 300 days before their birth is automatically presumed to be the child’s biological father. When a child’s parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth and were never married, parents must go through other avenues of establishing paternity. Paternity is important to establish, both for the father and the child, as doing so establishes certain rights for both.
Ways of Establishing Paternity
When parents are unmarried, there is no presumption of paternity — the parents must take steps to establish the paternity of their child. The simplest way of establishing paternity for a child is by having both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP). This form can be signed right in the hospital after the child is born, or parents can obtain the form later and file it with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
If paternity is contested, meaning either the mother or alleged father do not agree with the supposed paternity, they will have to take further steps to establish paternity. This typically means that all parties are required to submit to DNA testing to determine if the alleged father is indeed the biological father.
Reasons to Establish Paternity
Many people do not realize how important it is to legally establish paternity for a child. Perhaps two of the biggest reasons to establish paternity for a child is to allow the child’s father to be allocated parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Without establishing paternity, a father has no parental rights. A mother also cannot collect child support from the father until he is established as the child’s biological father, rather than just the alleged father. Other important reasons why people establish paternity include:
To add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate
To give the child and child’s mother access to the father’s medical history
To allow the child to collect certain benefits if the father were to die, including Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, retirement benefits, and pensions
To allow the child to be included on certain insurance policies, such as health insurance and life insurance
Our Crystal Lake, IL Paternity Attorneys Are Here to Help
Establishing paternity can be a simple process, but if a party becomes uncooperative, things can become more difficult than they need to be. At Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, we recognize the importance of unmarried couples establishing paternity for their children. Our team of knowledgeable and experienced McHenry County paternity lawyers can walk you through the process of establishing paternity, even if a parent objects. To discuss how we can help, call our office today at 815-338-3838 to schedule a free consultation.