When you establish paternity for your child, the father receives the legal right to visitation with his child as well as the legal responsibility to provide financial support. When the child is born, you can establish paternity by signing the state’s Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.
Sometimes, paternity is more complicated. Take these steps to establish legal paternity in Illinois when one or both parents has not signed the acknowledgement form in the hospital.
Voluntarily acknowledging paternity
Parents can submit the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form at any time after the child’s birth. You can get the form from your local child support office or download it online. Both parents must sign the document in front of a witness who is at least age 18. Then, submit the form to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
Filing a court petition
If you are the child’s mother or if you believe you are the child’s father and want to establish paternity, file a petition with the court clerk in your county using the Order for Parentage and Allocation of Parental Responsibilities form. You can complete the form online or submit it in person.
You must also serve the other parent with a Parentage Summons. This legal document alerts him or her that you have filed a paternity petition.
The judge will schedule a hearing to establish paternity. If necessary, he or she may order a DNA test.
If the court confirms that you are the child’s father, he or she will rule on your request for parental responsibilities. Depending on your situation, this could include visitation and/or shared physical custody. He or she will also determine legal custody, which is the right to make decisions on your child’s behalf.
Establishing paternity can provide your child the love and support of both parents. He or she is also entitled to financial support. By following these steps, you can assert these legal rights.