Many Illinois couples decide not to get married these days, but that does not stop them from wanting to have children together. These couples are not alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates that the parents of nearly 40 percent of the country's children are not married. Some unwed fathers might not realize that they do not enjoy the same assumptions under family law when it comes to paternity as their married counterparts.
For example, no presumption of paternity exists for an unwed father, as it does for a married father. A man who has a child with a woman who is not his wife must establish paternity legally. If a man is aware of this fact prior to the birth of his child, he can make sure that his name is on the birth certificate as the child's father. Thereafter, a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity could seal the deal.
If a man's name is not on the birth certificate, a paternity test will be needed in order to legally establish that he is the father of child. In either case, once paternity is established legally, an unwed father enjoys all of the rights and responsibilities of a married father. Issues such as custody, visitation and child support can then be settled.
This process not only exists in the event that the couple separates, but also to ensure that an unwed father has unfettered access to any information regarding the child's health, school records and the like. An unmarried couple who has a child would benefit from enlisting the services of an Illinois family law attorney to establish paternity as soon as possible. The process of being legally recognized as the father of a child might be more complicated than it is for a married man, but in the end, it is worth it.
Source: thespruce.com, "Things an Unwed Father Needs to Know", Wayne Parker, Accessed on April 1, 2017