In Illinois, if parents are not married at the time of a child’s birth, then the child’s paternity must be established by other means. One way to establish paternity in Illinois is to voluntarily acknowledge one's paternity. To do this, both parents must agree that the man is the child’s father.
However, sometimes, a mother or father later regrets the decision to acknowledge paternity. Perhaps one party was pressured into signing, or the father of the child was mistaken. Fortunately, there is a way to rescind the acknowledgment.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
In Illinois, when the father of a child is not married to the child's mother, there are three ways in which a child's paternity may be established:
- A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, signed by both parents;
- An administrative order from the Department of Public Aid; or
- An order of paternity from the court.
A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) is a legally binding agreement between the parents of a child. The form states that the man in question is the father of the child. To establish paternity through a VAP, the form must be signed by both parents and a witness.
By signing a VAP, the father waives his rights to genetic testing to determine the child’s parentage. The father accepts his responsibility to provide financial support for the child until the child reaches 18; in addition, the father will get notice of any adoption proceedings and will have his name added to the child's birth certificate. However, the VAP does not give the father any right to custody or visitation.
Rescission of VAP
If either parent later decides that he or she should not have signed the VAP, the parent can rescind the VAP by filling out a Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. Either parent may rescind the VAP, and the rescission must be signed and witnessed.
The rescission form must be delivered to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services be received within 60 days of either the date of the VAP, or the date of an administrative or judicial proceeding related to the child, whichever comes first.
After the 60 Days Pass
If more than 60 days pass since the signing of the VAP, then the VAP can only be challenged in court. The parent wishing to challenge the VAP must file a motion to vacate the VAP. Moreover, the VAP may be challenged only on the following bases: fraud, duress or material mistake of fact. The challenging party has the burden of proof and must show evidence of the fraud, duress or mistake.
Having an accurate acknowledgment of paternity is important for any child and for his or her mother and father. If you have problems or questions about your child’s paternity, an attorney can help you understand the legal concerns at issue. Please contact Nicholas W. Richardson, a dedicated Palatine family law attorney, to schedule your free initial consultation today.