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How Can I Protect My Parental Rights if I Am an Unwed Father?

Posted on in Family Law

Cook County family law attorney

Every parent should understand his or her parental rights under Illinois law. If you are a father or soon will be and you are unmarried, taking action to protect your parental rights is essential. When a married couple has a child, the husband of the woman who gave birth is automatically presumed to be the biological and legal parent of the child. However, if you are unmarried at the time of your child’s birth, you will need to take certain steps to establish yourself as the child’s legal parent. This is crucial in protecting your parental rights, including your right to enjoy parenting time with your child.

Establishing Paternity in Illinois

The first step you need to take to protect your rights as a father in Illinois is to establish your legal parent-child relationship. Establishing paternity provides a number of benefits to both the child and the parents. Unless there is a reasonable concern that spending time with the father would put the child’s well-being in danger, a father who has established paternity has a legal right to parenting time. Once you have established paternity, you will be able to put your name on your child’s birth certificate. Additionally, your child will gain access to your health insurance, Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits, and pension benefits if applicable. Establishing paternity also allows the custodial parent, meaning the parent with the majority of the parental responsibilities, to collect child support payments.

You may establish paternity by signing a form called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) at the hospital when the baby is born. The form is also available at your local county clerk’s office, registrar of vital records, or Department of Human Services office. If you or your child’s other parent question the biological relationship between you and the child, you may need to take a paternity test before paternity can be established.

Register With the Illinois Putative Father Registry

One concern that some unwed fathers have is that their child’s mother will place the child up for adoption. One way to ensure that you will be notified of any pending adoption is to register with the Illinois Putative Father Registry. If you do receive a notice of pending adoption, you will have the opportunity to appear in court and contest the adoption. You may register before the child is born or after, but you must register within 30 days of the birth of the child. You are also expected to establish paternity within 30 days of registering with the Illinois Putative Father Registry.

Contact a Cook County Paternity Lawyer

Establishing paternity and registering with the Illinois Putative Father Registry are two important steps you can take to protect your rights as a father. For help with legal concerns related to paternity, child custody, adoption, and much more, contact the qualified legal team at Botti Marinaccio, LTD. Schedule a confidential consultation with our knowledgeable Hinsdale family law attorneys by calling us today at 630-575-8585.



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Botti Marinaccio, LTD.


2015 Spring Road, Oak Brook, IL 60523

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