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Wakenight & Associates, P.C.

9405 Bormet Drive, Suite 7, Mokena, IL 60448

Mokena | 815-727-6144

DuPage County | 630-852-9700   Oak Park | 708-848-3159

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Will County fathers’ rights attorney parenting time paternity

If you are the father of a child, you may worry about what your parental rights are under Illinois law. Unmarried or divorcing fathers are often especially concerned about their parental rights and responsibilities. Although mothers often have the majority of parental responsibility and parenting time, fathers have just as many rights under Illinois law as mothers do. The law treats mothers and fathers equally, but fathers may have unique family law concerns related to paternity and other matters.

The Right to Establish Paternity

When a woman gives birth to a child, she automatically becomes the child’s legal mother. The same is not always true for a child’s father. Unmarried fathers may need to formally establish paternity in order to become their baby’s legal parent. There are three ways to establish paternity in Illinois. First, both parents may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital where the baby was born or at a later date. Paternity can also be established through a court order or through a hearing with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Establishing paternity is the first step in gaining the parental rights afforded to fathers under the law. However, you will still need to file a separate petition for the allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time with the court after establishing paternity. You will also be subject to Illinois law regarding child support.

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Mokena paternity attorneyThe number of babies being born in the United States to unmarried mothers is currently at an all-time high. In 1960, the percentage of babies born to unwed mothers was only five percent. In 2016, around 40 percent of all American children were born to unmarried mothers, and that statistic has remained steady in recent years. With the increased number of children being born to mothers who are not married, there is also an increased number of cases in which parents are seeking to legally establish the paternity of these children. In Illinois, paternity laws can be somewhat complex, and the process can be confusing, but establishing two legal parents for your child is worthwhile.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

It is now widely understood that children benefit from both parents playing active roles in their lives. While it is not untrue that a child’s father can be involved in his or her life without actually being considered the legal father, legal paternity can help. Legally establishing paternity can benefit your child by:

  • Ensuring your child has a legal right to a relationship with his or her father and the father’s side of the family;
  • Having the father’s name on your child’s birth certificate;
  • Making sure your child’s father has legal rights to the child if something happens to you that makes you unable to care for your child;
  • Allowing your child to be added to the father’s health insurance plan;
  • Making sure your child has access to his or her father’s medical records; and
  • Ensuring your child is able to receive his or her father’s Social Security benefits, pension, veteran’s benefits, and/or inheritance if the father passes away.

Ways to Establish Paternity in Illinois

The easiest way to establish the paternity of your child in Illinois is by having both parents fill out and sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital when your child is born. When you fill out information for the child’s birth certificate, you can ask hospital staff for a VAP and complete it then, or you can take the form home, complete it, and mail it to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

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