Kane County Family Law AttorneyThe term “paternity” refers to fatherhood. Mothers and fathers in Illinois often have questions about how paternity works. Contrary to what many believe, paternity is not always automatically established by a baby’s birth. In some cases, parents must take additional action to formalize the child’s legal relationship with his or her father. The situation becomes especially complex when a mother is unsure of who the father is, or the father denies his paternity.

How Can I Establish a Child’s Legal Relationship with His or Her Father?

If parents are unmarried, they must establish paternity. The easiest way is to sign a document called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) and submit it to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). Paternity may also be established through an administrative order through the HFS or through a court order.

What if I Signed a VAP and Then Found Out I Am Not the Father?

If you signed a VAP because you thought you were a child’s biological father and then found out you were not the father, you can complete a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity within 60 days of signing the VAP and file it with the HFS.

What if Paternity is Unknown?  

If parents are unsure whether a presumed father is the child’s actual father, they should not sign a VAP form. DNA testing is usually needed to confirm a man’s biological relationship to a child in situations like this. DNA testing is a simple procedure involving swabs of the inside of the mouth.

Does Establishing Paternity Mean a Father Gets Custody?

Establishing paternity is the first step for fathers who want to get custody or visitation (called parental responsibilities and parenting time in Illinois). However, a father does not automatically gain the right to parenting time or parental responsibilities by establishing paternity. These issues are determined by the courts.

How Does Paternity Affect Child Support?

Mothers who want to receive child support from their child’s father must first ensure that paternity has been formally established. Once the father’s relationship to the child has been established, the mother can file a petition for child support with the court. The court will use both parents’ net incomes to determine an appropriate child support order.

Contact a Kane County Paternity Lawyer

The skilled St. Charles divorce attorneys at [[title]] represent both mothers and fathers in family law matters. We can help you establish paternity, set up child support, modify child support, address the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and more. Call 630-584-4800 for a free consultation.