Whether you are married, in an unmarried relationship, going through a divorce, or share a child with your ex-spouse after getting re-married, it is important for you as a father to establish paternity. This legal process is necessary as it protects your child’s rights, as well as your rights as their father. Without establishing paternity, your privileges and rights as a parent may be at stake. Moreover, your child may not be able to reap medical, monetary, and inheritance benefits that they may avail as your next of kin.
Understanding Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP)
A VAP is a legal document signed by a father and a mother in order to establish paternity. In Illinois, several methods are used for proving paternity, such as personal interviews, judicial court hearings, and genetic testing. However, VAP is one of the most widely used methods mainly because of the simplicity and convenience it offers to the parties involved. The document is legally binding and is generally sent to the vital records office where the name of the father is changed on the child’s birth certificate.
While a VAP is filled out at the time of birth of a child in a hospital, it can be signed at a later date. This typically happens when a child is born to unmarried parents. The VAP form has to be completed and signed by both parents so that names of the mother and father can be put on the child’s birth certificate. The mother’s name goes on the certificate automatically, as the delivery of the child makes it evident that she is the biological mother.
The Importance of VAP in Paternity
By filling out a VAP form, you can make sure that the right father’s name is on the birth certificate, allowing the family to gain access to vital information. It also protects the child’s rights and benefits that they get from the father and serves as a legal proof of the relationship between a parent and child. It can be used as a proof in divorce or legal separation cases when a father may have to establish their authority and exercise their rights over the children, such as:
- To Get Parenting Time: With a VAP in place, fathers can provide the proof that paternity was established before divorce, allowing the court to acknowledge their right to get parenting time with their children.
- Share Responsibility and Make Decisions: The new Illinois divorce laws allow both parents to share responsibilities and take part in their child’s life. You will be able to make collaborative decisions with the mother pertaining to child’s healthcare care, religion, education, and other important matters.
- Third Party Adoption: Sometimes, when a single mother is unable to raise their child, they give them up for adoption. However, if the father can present legal proof of paternity, he can stop the mother from taking this step.
- Inheritance: Establishing paternity allows your child from a current or previous marriage to inherit your assets and property after you pass away. It allows you to put their name as a beneficiary in your estate plan with a VAP providing the evidence to prove that the child is yours and can claim the inheritance.
For more information regarding the legal aspects of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in Illinois, you may contact Casement Group, P.C. today at (847) 888-9300 for a free consultation with an experienced and reliable family law attorney.