The term “parental rights” can be confusing. Many parents assume that their parental rights are automatically granted to them when they have a child. While this is somewhat true, it is important to understand how and when parents’ legal rights are granted or revoked under Illinois law.
How Do Parents Gain Parental Rights?
Mothers are considered the legal parent of a child when they give birth. Fathers can gain parental rights by establishing paternity. Paternity is assumed for married parents, meaning the husband of a woman who gives birth to a new baby is automatically considered the child’s legal parent. Signing a document called a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) is the most popular method of establishing paternity when unmarried parents both agree on who the child’s father is.
Parents can also establish paternity through an administrative process with the Department of Child and Family Services or a judicial process with the court....