What rights does a father have if he is not on the birth certificate?

What Rights Does a Father Have if He is on the Birth Certificate?

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 the implications of a father’s name and signature being on a birth certificate, and what a father’s rights are if he is on the birth certificate of a minor child.  For a foundational overview of Illinois paternity laws, check out our article, Illinois Paternity Law Explained.

If a married couple has a child, both parents will be on the birth certificate with equal rights in regards to the parental responsibility of the child. Unmarried couples, however, do not have the same rights as parents who are wed when they have a child together.

When an unwed father signs the birth certificate, he is acknowledging that he’s the biological and legal father of the child. His signing of the certificate indicates he agrees to the paternity of the child and is taking legal responsibility of the child. In this aspect, legal responsibility means he is liable for the financial support of the child only, and does not mean the father has legal rights to access or time-sharing responsibilities with the mother of the child.

For an unwed father to have legal parental responsibilities (such as access and time-sharing), he must obtain a court order defining his rights. To do so, the father must file a Petition to Establish Paternity with the court. Until such access and rights are granted by the court, the mother holds 100% control in the decision-making responsibilities and time-share allocation regarding the child.

Under Illinois law, paternity must be established before the unwed father’s name can even be added to the birth certificate. There are three ways to establish paternity:

  • Both parents must sign and have a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form witnessed and filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services;
  • An Administrative Paternity Order can be established and entered by HFS’ Child Support Services;
  • An Order of Paternity is established and entered in court judicially.

When the unwed mother and father are in general agreement regarding the responsibilities and rights the father has when it comes to the newborn child, the VAP is the most common option. The VAP is a legal document that the hospital can provide the parents at the time of birth. The VAP can also, however, be completed, signed, witnessed and filed at any time for any child.

A common misperception of the VAP is that it automatically grants the father full rights to parental responsibilities. This is not the case. The VAP serves as the ability for the father to be named on the birth certificate, and therefore be liable for child support. Once paternity has been established and the father’s name is on the birth certificate, the father has the right to file an action to seek scheduled time with the child and participate in parental responsibilities with the child’s mother.

To learn more about how courts determine parental responsibilities, check out our article on  Illinois Parenting Laws.

Additional Financial Considerations
from Financial Experts

From Financial Experts

For many years, financial institutions have been creating a disservice to clients and the industry as a whole for years.
View More Professional Considerations

Presented By O'Flaherty Law

Father's Rights

Need Legal Help? 

Schedule a

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.

Leave a Comment With Your Questions

Read more about

Family Law & Divorce

Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a free consultation for legal advice specific to your situation.

Here are some articles that may interest you

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Schedule a free consultation

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in:

Who We Are
We are your community law firm. Our Illinois & Iowa Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.

Some of Our Accomplishments

Best Child Support Lawyers in Chicago
DuPage County Probate Attorney
Kevin P. O'Flaherty
Rated by Super Lawyers

loading ...
Naperville attorney
DuPage County Probate Attorney

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required