Family situations can be extremely complex. Sometimes, a mother gets pregnant unintentionally. She may not have a close relationship with the father or wish for him to be involved in the child’s life. Sometimes, the opposite is true. The mother wants the father to be involved in the child’s life and support the child financially, but the father refuses to sign the birth certificate or establish paternity.
In this situation, it is important to consider the legal and financial implications of not establishing paternity, as well as the potential benefits of establishing paternity. In some cases, it may be beneficial to take legal action to establish paternity, even if the father is not directly involved in the child’s life.
What Are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity?
Paternity is the legal father-child relationship. When a married couple has a child, paternity is assumed. If an unmarried couple has a child, paternity is not assumed, and the parents must take additional action to establish paternity.
One of the biggest advantages of establishing paternity is that it allows the mother to pursue child support. Any parent can confirm that raising a child is expensive, and children deserve to have financial support from both parents. In Illinois, you cannot petition the court for a child support order until paternity is established. So, if you are a mother hoping to obtain child support, establishing paternity is an important first step.
Additionally, when a father’s paternity is established, the rights of both parents are recognized under the law. The father has the right to pursue parenting time with his child and also make decisions on behalf of his child in certain situations such as medical or educational decisions. Establishing paternity does not automatically give child custody to the father rights but it is the first step in the process of seeking an allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Even if the child’s father is not involved in the child’s life now, this creates the potential for involvement later in the child’s life.
Establishing paternity also provides other benefits to the child including:
- Access to health insurance and other benefits through the father
- Access to important medical information about the father’s family history
- The potential for a father-child relationship
Ultimately, the decision about whether to establish paternity is your decision to make and only you can know what is right for you. If the father does not cooperate and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, you can still establish paternity through an administrative order or court order.
Contact a Wheaton Paternity Lawyer
If you want to learn more about how to establish paternity, contact our skilled DuPage County family law attorneys. Call [[title]] at [[phone]] for a free consultation.