There are three ways to establish parentage:
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form
- An Administrative Paternity Order
- An Order of Paternity is established and entered in court judicially
If parents are not married at the time of a child’s birth, both parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form at the time of delivery. This form can be completed at the hospital when the child is born or signed at a later date. The VAP must then be filed and accepted by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
A common misconception is that executing a VAP when a child is born grants the father parental rights. In Illinois, a VAP does not provide parental responsibility or parenting time rights to the father. It only serves as a basis for child support to be initiated. Allocation of parental responsibilities is presumed to be with the mother. The alleged biological father may petition the courts for allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time rights.
If parents are not sure who the child’s biological father is, do not sign the VAP. Establishing paternity by DNA testing is a better option.