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Understanding a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

When a child is born in Illinois, the law requires that there be a legal father. However, there are times when there might be a dispute as to whom the biological father is. In these cases, there is often what is known as a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. While this might seem to be a simple process, it must be understood that signing this document carries with it certain rights, responsibilities and outcomes.

People can make a mistake in signing the document without fully understanding it and then face legal problems later if it is determined that the man who signed the Acknowledgment is not the biological father. When the biological mother is or was previously married to the person who is not the biological father at the time the child was conceived or born, it is necessary to sign a Denial of Parentage form. This must be signed, witnessed and filed with the completed Acknowledgement by both biological parents.

There are certain facts that must be taken into account in this situation. When the Acknowledgment has been signed and filed with Healthcare and Family Services of Illinois, it is the same thing as if there was a court order that stated there was a legal relationship between father and child. The biological parents of a minor are legally allowed to sign the Acknowledgement without permission from a guardian. When the Acknowledgment is signed, it is also an agreement to provide child support and medical support until he or she turns 18. Signing the Acknowledgment does not give the biological parent parental responsibility or the right to have parenting time.

Either one of the biological parents can withdraw the Acknowledgement by signing a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or Rescission of Denial of Parentage. This must be done and filed within 60 days of the Acknowledgement or when the preceding was, whichever came first. When the Acknowledgment is signed, there is no right to have genetic testing. This is an issue that can arise with married or unmarried couples. This aspect of family law can be rife with emotions and a paternity dispute can be troublesome. Having a grasp of the ramifications of this Acknowledgment is key and at any juncture in such a case, it is wise to have legal advice from an experienced family law attorney.

Source: Illinois.gov, "Child Support -- Frequently Asked Questions -- What are the legal outcomes, rights and responsibilities associated with signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?," accessed on Jan. 3, 2017

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