At the Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., we know how much fathers as well as mothers look forward to the birth of their children. But did you know that in Illinois, if you do not marry your children’s mother prior to their births, your children have no legal father? As the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services explains, without a marriage or civil union existing between your children’s parents at the time of their births, they have no legal father, even if you and their mother live together and intend to get married or enter into a civil union in the future.
Paternity is the legal relationship between you and your children. Unless you establish this relationship, your children cannot automatically receive your Social Security benefits if you become disabled or when you die, an inheritance from you when you die, your veterans benefits, or your health and life insurance benefits. Nor can you obtain custody of or visitation with them.
In Illinois, you have the following three methodologies by which to establish your paternity:
- By completing, signing and filing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity with the DHFS
- By obtaining an Administrative Paternity Order from the DHFS
- By obtaining an Order of Paternity from an Illinois court
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
You and your child’s mother can obtain a VAP form from the hospital where your child is born. This is a legal document which both of you must fill out, date and sign in front of a disinterested adult over the age of 18. Once filed with the DHFS, you then become your child’s legal father and your name is added to his or her birth certificate.
If you and your child’s mother do not submit a VAP at the time of your child’s birth, you can do so at any time thereafter. You can get a VAP form at any of the following places:
- Your local child support office
- Your local DHFS office
- Your County Clerk’s office
- Any state or local Registrar’s office
- The HFS/DCSS website
If your child’s mother refuses to sign a VAP or if she refuses to acknowledge that you are the father of her child, then you must establish your paternity by means of one of the other two options. In either case, you must undergo a paternity test to verify that you are indeed your child’s biological and therefore legal father.
For more information, please visit this page of our website.