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Protect Your Rights as a Putative Father

 Posted on January 11, 2023 in Child Custody

DuPage County family lawyerWhat is a putative father? A putative father is someone believed to be the biological father of a child that was born out of wedlock. Because the couple is not married, legally the man is not the child’s father and the mother can put the child up for adoption without his permission. If the mother decides to keep the child, the man can choose to have no role in their life and therefore does not have to pay child support, but also is not allowed to have any say in how the mother chooses to raise the child. However, if the father decides he wants a say in the child's life or in the adoption process, some steps must be taken to legally become known as the child's father. 

Putative Father Registry 

The first step is to register with the Putative Father Registry. This must be done on time and if it is not, it could potentially cause the loss of parental rights altogether. When the child is born, hospitals offer Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity forms. However, if the father is not present at the birth he must register in the Putative Father Registry within thirty days of the child’s birth. The registration form will ask him to provide personal information such as his name, current address, social security number, and date of birth, as well as information about the mother and child. 

Once that is established if the mother decides that she wants to give the child up for adoption, the father will get a notice stating that there is a pending adoption. He will then be allowed to appear before the court and provide information that helps the court to determine the child's best interests. The Illinois Adoption Act states that a putative father can be a potential father if he can meet just one of the required criteria. 

To register with the Illinois Putative Father Registry you must fill out a written registration form, sign it, and return it to the Registry either in person or by mail. This comes at no cost. All that needs to be done is to obtain a form or complete it online. 

How To Establish Paternity

If the mother decides that she wants to keep the child, the father must decide if he wishes to be a part of the child's life. If he decides he does, he must establish paternity. The father will first and foremost register for the Putative Father Registry, but there are more steps when establishing paternity. Hiring a family law attorney will help make sure he knows his legal parental rights and is acknowledged as the father. The simplest way for the father to establish paternity is to file the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form. This legal document must be signed by both parents. If the mother is married, her husband must sign it as well. Once filed, the biological father's name is added to the child’s birth certificate. 

This form, unlike the Putative Father Registry, can be filed any time before the child reaches the age of twenty. This form, however, does not automatically grant the father custody or visitation rights. This is a separate issue that will be decided and considered by the court and a judge. The judge will consider the father's wishes, but will ultimately decide what is in the best interest of the child. Once paternity is established, the father will be required to pay child support. How much he needs to pay will, again, be ultimately decided by a judge. If the father decides he wants custody of the child, the court will determine this based on several factors. If the father gets custody of the child, the mother will be required to pay child support. Illinois law has no preference whether the mother or father has custody; rather, the court is only looking at what is believed to be in the best interests of the child. 

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney 

As a father, you deserve to know your rights. If you want to make sure your rights concerning your child and how they are being cared for are being respected, you do not have to go through this alone. Contact a Dupage County family law attorney today. Our attorneys focus exclusively on family law matters, and you deserve to be involved in making these big choices. Contact us online at Hensley Sendek Law or call us at 630-358-9029 for a free consultation. 





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