If you are an unmarried father in Illinois, you may need to go through several legal steps to ensure you have the rights and resources to build a relationship with your child. One possible way to solidify your rights is to sign a Voluntary Acknowledge of Parentage form. Once you sign this form, you are legally responsible for supporting your child. Understanding how the VAP process works may help you determine the best way to secure your parental rights.
According to Illinois Legal Aid, state law assumes you are a child’s father if you are married to his or her mother when she conceived or delivered. However, if you are not married to the child’s mother, establishing parentage requires additional steps. The simplest circumstance occurs when you and the child’s mother both agree that you are the father. She may agree to list your name on the child’s birth certificate, but this step alone may not legally establish your parentage. The state requires a VAP form. You may sign and submit this form before the child is born or at any time after the birth.
To complete a VAP form, you and the child’s mother must both be over 18 years old. If either of you is a minor, you need parental consent the sign the form. Additionally, you must sign the form in front of a witness who is over 18 years old. If the child’s mother is married, her spouse must first sign a Voluntary Denial of Parentage form before you may sign and submit your VAP form. Generally, you do not need to complete a genetic test before signing a VAP form, though you may do so if you wish. It is usually not possible to reverse a VAP after 60 days even if a genetic test proves you are not the child’s father.
This information about Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.