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How Can Unwed Fathers Protect Their Parental Rights?

 Posted on September 26, 2019 in Paternity

DuPage County paternity lawyer

No matter what kind of relationship you share with your child’s mother or what your living arrangements will be after your child is born, it is important to understand a father’s rights and how to avoid jeopardizing yours. If you wish to be involved and have a say over parental matters in the future, the first step is to be aware that in Illinois, you are only considered the legal father if you are married to--or have entered into a civil union with--the mother at the time of birth. This means that your relationship with your child from the moment he or she is born will greatly revolve around where you stand legally on paper. 

Immediate Actions You Can Take to Protect Your Rights

There are some actions you can take to establish paternity in order to make sure your rights as a father are not violated. Below are some of the first steps in becoming legally recognized as the father of your child: 

  • Sign a VAP: The most important step for any unmarried father to take in protecting his rights is to establish paternity. This ensures that the child is provided with financial security, has access to future medical records, and gives you, the father, legal recognition in a court of law. This also allows you to make sure your name is placed on the birth certificate. A VAP (Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity) form is one way to establish paternity. You can sign this form at the hospital, local child support office, county clerk’s office, any Department of Human Services office, or at your state Registrar office.

  • Take a paternity test: A simple DNA sample, which is taken by swabbing the inside of the father’s cheek, can provide proof that he is or is not a child’s biological father. DNA paternity testing can show that a man is the child's father with approximately 99.9 percent accuracy, or that he is not the father with 100 percent accuracy. This is a concrete way to establish paternity and protect your rights as a dad. Your attorney and Child Support Services can assist you in scheduling the test and filling out all the necessary paperwork. 

  • Register with the Putative Father Registry: Registering as a putative father, or a father who was not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, is a way for an assumed biological dad to show that he is the legal parent and to claim his entitled rights. This helps protect your rights when it comes to any potential adoption decisions on the mother’s behalf. For example, if you are registered, the court is required to notify you beforehand in the event that your child becomes the subject of an adoption proceeding, allowing you the opportunity to appear in the court case. You are encouraged to register as a putative father even if you already signed the birth certificate, and you should do so no later than 30 days after the birth of your child.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

The bond between a father and his child is special. There are various ways to pursue the establishment of paternity, and many questions may arise as you begin the process. At the law firm of A. Traub & Associates, we understand the importance of parental rights. If you are concerned about your rights as a new father, entrust your case to a skilled, knowledgeable Lombard, IL fathers’ rights lawyer for peace of mind. Call our office today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a consultation.




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