Child development experts have for years insisted that a child does best when both parents are an important part of his or her life. Save for instances in which a father is abusive or unable to care for a child, having a father in a child’s life is beneficial for children in many ways. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million American children live without their biological father in the home. This puts them at an increased risk of becoming involved with criminal activity, dropping out of high school, becoming pregnant as a teenager, and abusing drugs and alcohol. Unmarried fathers in Illinois who wish to be involved in their children’s lives must first establish paternity through one of several recognized ways.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form
If the father and mother both agree on the paternity of the father, they may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form (VAP). Conveniently, this form is available at hospitals, so many fathers sign it soon after the child’s birth. If a father does not sign the acknowledgement of paternity in the hospital, he still has the opportunity to do so later at any local registrar of vital records, Department of Human Services office, county clerk's office, or child support services office. The form can also be completed and witnessed at home, then mailed to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
Fathers Who Deny Paternity
If a father does not voluntarily admit paternity, the state of Illinois has the power to establish paternity through court or administrative action. Either parent of a child may request genetic testing to establish paternity. A purported father does not have to agree to genetic testing in order to be tested. If test results show that a man is the biological father of the child in question, he will become the presumed father.
Unmarried fathers are often required to pay child support to the mother of their child once paternity is established. Even if a man was not granted physical custody, or parenting time, with the child, he may still be required to make child support payments. Put another way, spouses cannot “get out of” paying child support by refusing visitation with the child. If a father is awarded the majority of parenting time, the mother may be required to pay him child support.
Contact a Family Law Attorney for Help
If you are worried about protecting your rights as a father, an experienced Wheaton family law attorney at Andrew Cores Family Law Group can help. To schedule a confidential consultation, call 630-871-1002.