I Just Found Out That I Am Not My Child’s Father—What Should I Do?
When it comes to fathers’ rights, paternity is the building block upon which all other parenting decisions are made with regards to child custody. Proving that you are or are not the father of the child can make a world of painful difference, be it emotional when you realize you may no longer be entitled to parenting time or financial when a court rules that you must pay child support for a child being raised by another man. Depending on your situation, you might want to consider legal action.
What to Do if the Divorce Proceedings Uncover Paternity Issues
If somehow during your divorce, your wife says the child you have cared for during the marriage over the last several years — the same one you cradled to bed as a baby, took to the park as a toddler, and brought to the movies as a schoolchild — is not actually yours, you will need to make the proper legal arrangements and begin developing a winning strategy to protect your rights as a father. In particular, consider the following:
How was the paternity originally established? In Illinois, there are only four possible ways to establish paternity:
If the mother was married or in a civil union upon birth or within 300 days before birth, her partner is legally presumed to be the father without any paperwork or other actions necessary provided neither party disagrees.
Both parents signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form with a witness, to be filed with Healthcare and Family Services.
An Administrative Paternity Order was established and validated through Child Support Services, which might include paternity testing.
An Order of Paternity was established and validated through legal means in a court, which often includes paternity testing.
What would be in the best interests of the child? While it may come as a shock that you are not your child’s biological father, you might have become so attached to that child and loved him or her so much over the years that you consider yourself his or her true father. If it is determined that the child is not yours biologically, the following may occur:
You might have the child taken away if a judge determines that without legitimate biological paternity, you are not responsible for child support or entitled to any child visitation.
The child will no longer be entitled to other security from you in the future, such as Social Security benefits if you die or become disabled, your inheritance, veteran’s benefits when applicable, or your health/life insurance benefits.
Most importantly, the child may be traumatized if they were raised by you then discover that you are not the real father or, worse yet, never see you again due to a court decision.
Contact a DuPage County Fathers' Rights Attorney
If you find out that you are not your child’s biological father, you may be in shock and unsure of what to do next. You should discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney to determine how you will proceed. The caring professionals at Andrew Cores Family Law Group will make sure you and the child you care about so much get fair legal treatment. Call a Wheaton, IL paternity lawyer today at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation.