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The benefits of acknowledging paternity

103091802_s.jpgUnmarried fathers in Illinois and throughout the country may be able to gain rights to a child by acknowledging their paternity. Doing so may make it possible to avoid going to court to establish it. However, if the mother doesn't agree that an individual is a child's father, a court appearance may be inevitable to resolve the matter. An acknowledgement of paternity (AOP) document must be signed by both parents, and it may also need to be witnessed.

By signing the document, a man will have the right to be consulted in the event that the child is put up for adoption. However, he does not automatically obtain custody or visitation rights simply by filling out the AOP document. A judge will need to determine if providing a father with visitation or custody rights is in the best interest of the child.

Fathers who acknowledge paternity could be required to make child support payments, and they could also be included on a child's birth certificate. A birth certificate may be altered if paternity is established after it has been issued. Parents may be able to fill out an AOP form at the hospital where the baby was born. They may also be able to obtain a copy of the document after the child goes home and forward it to the appropriate state agency.

Parents who want legal or physical custody of their children will likely need a judge to sign off on such a request. An attorney may help a parent prepare for a child custody hearing and maximize the chances of obtaining a favorable ruling. This may include helping a parent establish paternity either voluntarily or through the use of DNA testing. Generally speaking, judges prefer that both parents have access to a child.

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