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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we explain how to establish paternity by mutual agreement of the parents.  

Illinois Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (“VAP”) Explained

When unmarried individuals have a child in Illinois, the easiest way to add the biological father to the birth certificate if both parents agree is for both parties to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (known as a “VAP”) at the hospital after the child is born.  

Executing a VAP causes the father to be added to the birth certificate and makes the biological father liable to financially support the child through child support.  However, a VAP does not give the father any rights to parenting time with the child or to make parental decisions.  Once paternity is established through a VAP, parenting rights and responsibilities can later be adjudicated through a court proceeding.  To learn more about this, check out our article, Illinois Parenting Laws Explained.

Can a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Be Rescinded?

Either party may rescind the VAP within 60 days of its effective date.  Once this 60-day period has passed, a VAP can only be undone by filing a petition to establish the non-existence of a father-child relationship within 2 years of the effective date of the VAP.  The burden is on the petitioner to show both:

  • That the person who signed the VAP is not the biological father; AND
  • That the person signed the VAP as a result of fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact.  

Both of these facts must be proven by clear and convincing evidence, which is a higher burden of proof than the standard “preponderance of the evidence” standard.   

How to Establish Paternity By Agreement if the Father did Not Sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity at the Hospital

If the father did not sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity shortly after birth, the parties can fill out and submit a VAP form at any time.  We explain the process in our article: How to Establish Paternity if the Father Does Not Sign a VAP at the Hospital.

In more complicated situations, the parties may have to file a petition to establish paternity with the court.  If the parents are in agreement, this is a simple process.  A court date will be set by the clerk when the petition is filed.  The court will then generally order a DNA test.  If the DNA test shows that the alleged father is in fact the biological father, the court will issue an order establishing paternity.  

Once an Order of Paternity has been entered by the court, the parents can submit a certified copy of the order along with an An Affidavit and Certificate of Correction Request form to the Illinois Department of Public Health.  The clerk of court can provide you with a certified copy of the order.  For more on this, check out our article: How to Correct a Birth Certificate in Illinois.

To learn more about this process, as well as the process for establishing paternity if the parents don’t agree, check out our article: Illinois Paternity Law Explained.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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