What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

The birth of a child is almost always a joyful occurrence, with parents celebrating the new life they have brought into the world. However, this can also be an emotionally and legally confusing time for parents whose relationship isn’t traditionally defined.

People conceive and have children in many different relational circumstances. They could be a man and woman or a same-sex couple. They might be unmarried, married or divorced.

It could be that the child was conceived completely outside of a traditional relationship — when one or both parties were married to another person, or through a one-time encounter.

In cases in which an unwed man and woman have a child together, many people choose to clarify their parental standings by signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity.

A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity functions to show that both the woman and man recognize they are the biological parents of the child in question. They accept legal paternity, with the privileges and responsibilities associated with that position.

Who should sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity forms are typically signed at the hospital when a child is born. The woman and man who sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity are then listed on the child’s birth certificate as his or her natural parents. From that moment forward, the man and woman are expected to fulfill their parental duties as dictated by law.

Because maternity of a child is rarely in doubt upon birth, Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is mostly relevant to unwed fathers, though mothers also sign the form.

When a child is born to a woman who is married, the State of Illinois law presumes that the woman’s spouse is the child’s father. The same applies in the case of same-sex couples who are married.

Unless there has been other legal standing filed to establish paternity, the non-birth spouse is presumed to be the other natural parent of the child, regardless of how exactly the child was conceived.

Can someone other than a biological parent sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

Some people choose to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity with knowledge that they are not the child’s biological parent, and that is permitted by law.

If a non-biological father wants to become a legal parent, it is important that he understands that signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is a serious legal matter not to be entered into lightly and is a legally binding document.

Is it easy to remove a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in Illinois?

No, it is not always easy to remove a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity if you should change your mind after it is signed. The State of Illinois allows for the mother or father to withdraw their Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity within 60 days of the date of signing. In case of divorce or death of the mother, the father who signed the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity maintains all the legal responsibilities associated with the child.

After that, withdrawing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity requires court action to prove that the signer was defrauded, threatened or unduly influenced. After two years, however, even these reasons may not provide legal basis for withdrawal.

What does it mean to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?

  • Creates a presumption of paternity
  • Acknowledges acceptance of paternity and having one’s name listed on a birth certificate
  • Forfeits your right to having paternity confirmed through a DNA test (except in instances of trying to prove fraud or a serious mistake)
  • Makes it possible that the father who signs the VAP could be liable for child support

What signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity doesn’t do…

  • Does not create a claim of or agreement for allocation of parental responsibility
  • Does not create an agreement of child support

How to receive a copy of a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity in Illinois

To obtain a copy of a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, please visit Child Support Services at this link. Regardless, it is best to consult with a Family Law attorney to recognize all aspects of a parent’s rights.

If you have questions about signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, contact our office to speak with a family law attorney, who can advise you of your options to protect yourself and your child. Please contact our office at (815) 600-8950 to schedule a free consultation.

This article does not constitute individual legal advice and is to not to be construed as such.  This article contains general information and constitutes legal advertising.


This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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