The 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.
If the man who you believe to be the father of your child is not willing to voluntarily acknowledge the child’s paternity, you can file a paternity suit in court, which will force the father to take a genetic test to determine the child’s paternity. If the genetic test comes back confirming that the alleged father is the child’s biological father, then the judge will enter an Order of Paternity.
Contact a Will County Paternity Lawyer Today
If you were unmarried when you gave birth to your child or before you gave birth, it can greatly benefit your child to legally establish his or her paternity. Illinois paternity cases can be long and stressful, which is why having a New Lenox, IL family law attorney on your side is a smart idea. At Wakenight & Associates, P.C., we understand the benefits of legally establishing the paternity of your child, but we also understand how difficult that process can be, and we can protect your child’s best interests if the alleged father does not comply. Contact us today by calling 815-727-6144 to schedule a free consultation.