The phrase voluntary acknowledge of paternity is used on a daily basis in domestic relations courtrooms and between attorneys handling cases involving children of unwed parents. A voluntary acknowledge of paternity is also called a “VAP” and it is a document that the father of a child signs, usually at the hospital where the child is born.
The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 at 750 ILCS 46/302 outlines the elements of executing a valid voluntary acknowledgment.
(a) A voluntary acknowledgment described in Section 301 of this Act must:
(1) be in a record;
(2) be signed, or otherwise authenticated, under penalty of perjury by the mother and by the man seeking to establish his parentage;
(3) state that the child whose parentage is being acknowledged:
(A) does not have a presumed parent, or has a presumed parent whose full name is stated; and
(B) does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated parent;
(4) be witnessed; and
(5) state that the signatories understand that the voluntary acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial adjudication of parentage of the child and that: (i) a challenge by a signatory to the voluntary acknowledgment may be permitted only upon a showing of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact; and (ii) a challenge to the voluntary acknowledgment is barred after 2 years unless that period is tolled pursuant to the law.
(b) An acknowledgment is void if it:
(1) states that another person is a presumed parent, unless a denial signed or otherwise authenticated by the presumed parent is filed with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, as provided by law;
(2) states that another person is an acknowledged or adjudicated parent; or
(3) falsely denies the existence of a presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated parent of the child.
(c) A presumed father may sign or otherwise authenticate a voluntary acknowledgment.