You and the mother of your child are both very aware of your status as the father. Although you never got married, you were together before the pregnancy and possibly during those exciting expectant months.
Your marital status meant that the state did not automatically include you on the birth certificate. If, for some reason, you did not fill out the necessary paperwork to add your name officially to the birth certificate at the hospital, you have not yet established paternity.
In other words, the state does not recognize you as the father of your child. Why is it so important to establish paternity for your children?
To give yourself parental rights
Illinois state law protects the rights of parents to have parenting time with their children and also to have some say in the major decisions about a child’s life. If you don’t establish paternity, the mother of your child is the one who controls when you see the children, where they go to school and what kind of health care they receive.
If you have a falling out, she might refuse to let you spend time with the children or even attempt to move away so that you can’t visit anymore. Taking the time to establish paternity will prevent your ex from leaving with the child or otherwise cutting you out of their lives without your approval or permission from the courts.
To provide your child with stability and certain rights
If you were to die unexpectedly, your child would theoretically have inheritance rights. However, the process of connecting with part of your estate or even survivor benefits through workers’ compensation could be an uphill battle if you haven’t already established paternity.
After you establish paternity, your child will have the security that comes from having both parents named on their birth certificate, which makes it easier for them to learn about their family medical history and background. Your child will also feel a deeper connection to their broader family and culture when they know exactly who their family truly is.
Establishing paternity may be a quick voluntary process or may require family court intervention and genetic testing if the mother is uncooperative. Either approach will ultimately result in you having official rights as a father and your child having certain protections. Seeing the value in establishing paternity may inspire you to start the process of becoming an officially recognized Illinois father.