what is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

How to Establish Paternity in Illinois if the Father Doesn’t Sign a VAP at the Hospital

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we explain how to establish paternity in Illinois if the father doesn’t sign a VAP at the hospital. We discuss: 

  • What is a VAP?;
  • How to establish paternity by consent if the father does not sign a VAP at the hospital; and
  • How to establish paternity if the father refuses to sign a VAP.

What is a VAP?

A VAP, or Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, is a form that is presented to unwed parents at the hospital at the birth of a child.  If both parents sign the form, the man who signs the form is legally considered to be the father of the child and will be added to the child’s birth certificate.  This does not give the father any parenting rights, however it does obligate the father to pay child support.  Parenting rights can be established after the fact to the extent such rights are in the best interest of the child by filing a petition for allocation of parenting time and responsibility

To learn more about VAPs, check out: Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and Establishing Paternity by Agreement in Illinois.

How to establish paternity by consent if the father does not sign a VAP at the hospital?

The easiest way to establish paternity is for the father to sign the VAP at the hospital.  However, if the parents are in agreement in wanting to establish paternity, a VAP can be executed at any time after the birth of the child.  

You can find the VAP form here.  Once the form is filled out and signed by both parents in front of witnesses, it can be filed with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Administrative Coordination Unit (ACU) 110 West Lawrence St. Springfield, Illinois 62704.

The IDHFS will then send the form to the Illinois Division of Vital Records, which will add the father’s name to the birth certificate.

How to establish paternity if the father refuses to sign a VAP

If the father refuses to sign a VAP, the mother can initiate a paternity suit by filing a petition to establish paternity in the appropriate circuit court.  This will ultimately lead to a hearing whereby each party will have the opportunity to present evidence for and against the alleged father’s paternity.  Usually, the best evidence is a DNA test.  Although the court generally will not force the alleged father to take a DNA test, the alleged father will probably lose the case if he refuses.  

For more information, check out our article: Illinois Paternity Law Explained

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What is a VAP?

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