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crystal lake paternity lawyerWhen a child is born to married parents, that child’s biological parents are presumed by law. The biological mother of a child is obvious -- it is whoever gave birth to the child. When it comes to the child’s biological father, any man who is married to the child’s biological mother at the time the child is born or within the 300 days before their birth is automatically presumed to be the child’s biological father. When a child’s parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth and were never married, parents must go through other avenues of establishing paternity. Paternity is important to establish, both for the father and the child, as doing so establishes certain rights for both.

Ways of Establishing Paternity

When parents are unmarried, there is no presumption of paternity -- the parents must take steps to establish the paternity of their child. The simplest way of establishing paternity for a child is by having both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP). This form can be signed right in the hospital after the child is born, or parents can obtain the form later and file it with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

If paternity is contested, meaning either the mother or alleged father do not agree with the supposed paternity, they will have to take further steps to establish paternity. This typically means that all parties are required to submit to DNA testing to determine if the alleged father is indeed the biological father.

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Crystal Lake IL paternity lawyerThe composition of the average American family has changed drastically over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, one in four children today lives with parents who are not married. One of the biggest reasons for this is an increase in the number of babies born to unmarried mothers. In 1970, only 26 out of 1,000 births were to unmarried mothers, but in 2016, 42 out of every 1,000 births were to unmarried women. Having a child outside of marriage is common these days, but it can come with its own legal hurdles. If your child is born and you are not married when it happens, you may need to take extra steps to establish paternity for your child.

Voluntarily Establishing Paternity

In Illinois, the paternity of a child is only legally presumed if the mother was married at the time of the child’s birth or within the 300 days prior to the child’s birth. If she was, the man the mother was married to is presumed to be the child’s biological father. If the mother is unmarried when she gives birth, steps must be taken to establish paternity for the child. The easiest way to do this is through a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, or VAP, for short.

A VAP is a form that the parents must fill out, sign, and either return to hospital staff who will turn it in to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, or take the form home and send it in at a later date. The form must be signed by both the mother and the father in order to have the father’s name and information added to the child’s birth certificate.

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McHenry County family law attorney parenting time

Unlike divorcing couples with children, parents who were never married do not automatically receive rights to parenting time. Instead, they must pursue it. Further, an order requiring the payment of child support does not guarantee parenting time to the paying parent. With this in mind, it is important to understand how you can get time with your child if you were never married.

Why Pursue Parenting Time?

Fathers who are not married to the mother of their child often wonder if it is worth pursuing parenting time with their child. They may be concerned about cost, or they may fear their rights will not be acknowledged by the courts. Rest assured that as long as you are not considered to be a risk to the child’s safety or emotional well-being, it is likely that your presence may be considered a positive influence on the life of your child. Further, studies have shown that children often fare better when they have two loving and connected parents. Since you may be required to financially contribute to the rearing of your child, regardless of whether you pursue parenting time or not, why not consider making an emotional contribution as well?

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