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What Are the Advantages of Establishing Paternity in Illinois?

Posted on in Family Law

St. Charles paternity lawyersStudies have shown that a child thrives when he or she has a healthy relationship with both parents, regardless of the relationship between the adults. A mother and a father play different roles in the psychological development of a child. However, in some cases, the father’s identity may be in question for various reasons. For example, the mother might not have been married at the time she gave birth, and she may have had multiple romantic partners. 

Paternity refers to the legal relationship between a father and his biological child, which involves the rights and obligations of both the father and the child to each other. Even if both parents do not remain romantically involved, they can still work together for the best interest of their child by providing financial and emotional support. Establishing paternity is also important for protecting each parent’s rights.  

The Process of Establishing Paternity 

If a child's mother is or was married when the child was born or within 300 days prior to the child’s birth, the person the mother was married to (or in a civil union) at that time is presumed to be the child’s second parent. If the mother was married to a man, the man is presumed to be the child’s father. 

If the mother is not married, there are three ways that paternity can be established: 

  • Both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form and file it with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). This form is usually available at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, and if completed, it allows the father’s name to be listed on the birth certificate.
  • An Administrative Paternity Order is established and entered through DHFS’ Child Support Services. This is often done as the first step in obtaining child support. 
  • An Order of Paternity is established and entered by a judge in a county circuit court.

A Child’s Rights

Establishing paternity gives the father sole parental rights to the child in case the child’s mother becomes incapacitated or passes away. If paternity is not confirmed, the child’s father will not necessarily be awarded custody after the mother’s death. Establishing paternity can also make the child eligible for a number of other benefits through his or her legal relationship with his or her father. Some of these benefits include:

  • Medical coverage
  • Social security
  • Inheritance rights
  • Life insurance
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Access to paternal medical history
  • Retirement accounts (pension, 401k) beneficiary status

A Father’s Rights

Under Illinois family law, there are specific legal privileges that a father will only have access to after paternity is established. Without establishing paternity, a man does not have the standing to request time with the child or any type of decision-making authority regarding the child’s life. Only after a finding of paternity does a man have the right to petition the court for any type of parental responsibilities. 

A Mother’s Rights

A mother can also receive benefits when paternity is established, since the father will be legally responsible for the child. This means the mother has the right to pursue an order for child support through DHFS or the courts. This type of order provides funds that can help pay for the child’s basic necessities such as clothing, food, and shelter. A child support order can also be used to address financial concerns such as school tuition/supplies, medical care, and extracurricular activities. 

Contact a Geneva Family Law Attorney

Establishing legal parentage of a child can have many advantages, both for a father and his or her child. In addition, to an emotional connection, paternity can secure certain benefits, such as insurance or inheritance rights At The Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II PC, we have over 50 years of combined legal experience in helping clients resolve all kinds of family law matters. Our knowledgeable and compassionate Elgin paternity lawyers understand the importance of establishing paternity and guide you through the process to make sure your parental rights are protected. Call us today at 630-200-4882 to schedule an initial consultation. 






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