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Legal Issues Parents of Children Born Out-of-Wedlock May Face

Posted on in Distribution of Assets

child custodyA recent survey revealed that more and more Americans are not waiting to get married before they begin to have children. This trend is especially growing among college educated adults. But having a child out-of-wedlock may raise several legal issues that could need to be addressed.

Out of 9,000 adults between the ages of 26 to 31 years of age, more than 50 percent of the women were mothers. Of that number, 64 percent had at least one child out-of-wedlock, and almost half had all of their children out-of-wedlock. The statistics for men in the group were very similar to the women.

Unmarried parents who have children together may find themselves facing several family law issues that they did not anticipate, including paternity, child custody and support. In this state, Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 established the rules for children born to unwed parents.

When a child is born to parents who are married, there is a legal assumption that the husband is the father and that is whose name is automatically added to the birth certificate. But that is not the case for children who are born to unwed parents. In those situations, paternity must be legally established in order to not only hold the father financially responsible for the child, but also afford him the same legal parental rights as a father of a child from marriage.

When a child is born to unwed parents, the simplest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage (VAP). A man who signs a VAP is legally acknowledging that he is the biological father of the child and is therefore responsible for the child’s needs. This acknowledgement can then be used by both parties to move forward with any future legal action, such as child custody and support, since there is no question about paternity pending.

If a man refuses to sign a VAP but is determined through DNA testing that he is the child’s biological father, a paternity order can be issued either through Illinois Child Support Services or by a judge.

If you have had a child out-of-wedlock and are struggling with legal issues with the other parent, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney to help initiate and guide you through the legal process to help ensure your parental rights are protected.


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