You don’t need to get married to have a committed relationship with someone else, and you don’t need to be in a committed relationship to have a baby. However, as the father of a child, not marrying the mother somewhat changes your legal situation from what a married father experiences.
You may need to take more steps to obtain your parental rights and responsibilities than a man married to the mother of his children. Establishing paternity is an important step if you want parenting time or visitation with your children. Do you have to undergo genetic testing as an unmarried father who wants his parental rights?
Tests are only one way to establish paternity in Illinois
Unmarried couples have several ways for the father to establish formal paternity and obtain the rights and responsibilities that come along with it. Most people know that the courts can order genetic testing to confirm that a father’s paternity.
However, genetic testing for paternity is usually only necessary in the scenarios where the mother refuses to acknowledge the father or is uncertain about who the father actually is. When the mother chooses to acknowledge the father voluntarily, a test is not necessary to establish his legal paternity under Illinois law.
Establishing paternity can be as simple as filling out a form together
If the mother knows you are the father and wants to encourage your participation in the life of your child, you can establish your paternity via paperwork. Unmarried parents in Illinois can cooperate to fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Some couples execute this document right at the hospital after the birth of a child, but it is also an option for as long as the child is a minor.
You fill out the paperwork together in front of a witness and then file the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
Doing so is incredibly important if you want to provide your children with a sense of the family background or protect your rights as a father in case anything happens in your relationship with the mother. Legally establishing paternity can benefit you and your children for years to come, making it very much worth the effort.