Under Illinois law, paternity is presumed when the mother is married — meaning no action is required to make her husband the legal father of the child. For unmarried couples, establishing paternity is a bit more complicated. The most straightforward way to do so is by submitting a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form to the state. Both parents must sign this form for it to be legally valid.
If either party refuses to sign, then you cannot use a VAP to establish paternity. This raises an important question: Should you sign the form? In this article, our Illinois paternity attorneys discuss the most important things you should know about signing the state’s voluntary acknowledgment form.
What is Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP)?
A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form is simply a legal document unmarried people can use to establish parentage. When completed, signed by both parties, and submitted to the state of Illinois, a man will become the legal father of the child. A VAP is an easy and effective legal tool for unmarried couples who agree on a child’s parentage.
A VAP is Binding — It Will Create Parental Rights and Responsibilities
While a VAP form is relatively simple, it is important to understand it is very much a powerful document. It is legally binding, enforceable, and creates parental rights and parental obligations for the father. In that sense, a voluntary acknowledgment form is like a court order. Among other things, the form will:
As was mentioned, a VAP form must be signed by both parents. If either the mother or father refuses to sign the form, paternity cannot be established through voluntary legal means. You will have to pursue another option.
You Have 60 Days to Rescind an Acknowledgement of Paternity
While you should never sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form before you are ready, state law does allow for a “cooling off” period. As noted by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), both parties have sixty (60) days to rescind a VAP form. Whether you have learned new information or realized you made the wrong decision, you can rescind the form if you act within sixty (60) days. However, once the deadline expires, the acknowledgment is finalized. It will be far more difficult and complicated (though not impossible) to deny parentage after that point.
Speak to Our Illinois Paternity Lawyers Today
At Keller Legal Services, our Illinois family law attorneys represent both fathers and mothers in paternity cases. If you have questions or concerns about signing a voluntary acknowledgment form, we can help. To request a free, completely confidential initial consultation, please contact our legal team today. From our office locations in Naperville, Aurora, and Wheaton, we handle paternity cases throughout Northern Illinois.