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FAQ’s on Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage/Paternity

Updated on
November 4, 2020
Article written by
Attorney Christine Hunt

In this article we answer the frequently asked questions about Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage (also known as a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” or “VAP”) including:

  • What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage/ Paternity?
  • Where can parents get a blank VAP in Illinois?
  • Who can sign a VAP in Illinois?
  • When should a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity be signed in Illinois?
  • How do the parents make the VAP official in Illinois?
  • How can a parent get a copy of a completed VAP in Illinois?
  • In Illinois, for unmarried couples, can the father’s name be added to the birth certificate without a VAP?
  • What if the Mother is married to a person who is not the biological parent of the child in Illinois?
  • Can I change my mind about a VAP in Illinois?
  • Can I challenge a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in Illinois after 60 days?

In this article we will answer the frequently asked questions about VAPs. See this article (https://www.oflaherty-law.com/learn-about-law/paternity-law-explained) for more information relating to paternity or this article for more information about establishing parentage (add link to article on establishing parentage).

What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage/Paternity?

A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP), is a legal document that can be used by unmarried partners to establish parentage without having to go to court. When the form is completed, signed, witnessed, and filed with the Department of health care and Family Services, it has the same effect as a court order determining the legal relationship between a child and parent.

Where can parents get a blank VAP in Illinois?

A VAP may be obtained from the following locations:

  • Hospital
  • Local Child Support Office · HFS website: https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/hfs3416b.pdf
  • Department of Human Services office
  • County Clerk's office

Who can sign a VAP in Illinois?

Parents who are not legally married or in a civil union can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. If a VAP is being utilized to establish parentage, both parents must sign the form. Any biological parent may sign the VAP including:

  • · Minors without the consent of a parent or guardian. (Minors under the age of 18 can sign a VAP without the consent of a parent or guardian. However, parentage is not established until six months after the younger parent turns 18.)
  • · Non-US citizens if the child was born in the U.S.

After the parents sign the VAP, the parents who signed the form are listed on the child’s birth certificate as the child’s parents.

When should a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity be signed in Illinois?

If there is no question about the parentage of the child, a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form can be signed at the hospital when the child is born. If there is question as to the parentage of the child, it is recommended that the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is not signed until after a DNA test is completed and confirms who is the biological parent of the child. The VAP may be completed before the child is born, but it is not valid until the child is born and the VAP is filed with HFS.

How do the parents make the VAP official in Illinois?

The parents must first make sure the form is completed fully and correctly. The form can then be signed, dated, and witnessed. The final step is to submit the VAP to HFS, by following the instructions on the back of the form. The VAP is considered valid when it is accepted and filed with HFS. Forms that contain errors will be rejected. It is therefore extremely important that the form is completed carefully and accurately. If the biological mother is married at the time of conception and/or birth, a Denial of Parentage form will also need to be submitted.

How can a parent get a copy of a completed VAP in Illinois?

Only the parents of a child, or an attorney on behalf of a parent of a child, may request a copy of the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and/or the Denial of Parentage. Parents must complete a form (HFS 3416 H: https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/Documents/hfs3416h.pdf) to request a certified copy of the VAP. The form must include a parent’s original, notarized signature.

In Illinois, for unmarried couples, can the father’s name be added to the birth certificate without a VAP?

No, in Illinois, for unmarried couples, a VAP must be signed before a father’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate.

What if the Mother is married to a person who is not the biological parent of the child in Illinois?

If the mother of the child is married to a person who is not the biological parent, then the spouse must first sign a Voluntary Denial of Parentage form to say they are not the parent. Then, the mother and the biological parent can sign a VAP. If a woman is married when a child is born (or if she is no longer married but was married 300 days before the child was born), the State of Illinois presumes that the woman’s spouse is the child’s father. This presumption applies in both opposite sex and same sex couples.

Can I change my mind about a VAP in Illinois?

Either parent named on the VAP can cancel the VAP by properly completing a form called the Recission of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity within 60 days from the effective date of the VAP. The Rescission must be signed, witnessed, and filed with HFS within 60 days from

the effective date of the VAP. After the 60-day period, a Rescission can no longer be filed. Even if a genetic test is done later that shows that a person is not the biological parent, that person cannot rescind the VAP if it has been more than 60 days since it was signed.

Can I challenge a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in Illinois after 60 days?

If a party waits longer than 60 days and the VAP cannot be rescinded, that person will have to go to court can prove the VAP was signed due to fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact. In most cases this petition must be filed within 2 years after the effective date of the VAP. In certain very rare circumstances, the petition can be brought after 2 years. The person who is challenging the VAP has the burden of proof. Proof may include a negative DNA test.


FAQ’s on Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage/Paternity
Author

Attorney Christine Hunt

Christine has experience in family law including divorce, parentage, parenting time, parental allocation, child support, domestic violence, and post decree matters as well as estate planning and business law.

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