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​HOPE: ​Hospital Opportunity for Paternity Establishment Fact Sheet

Mandate: Illinois Compiled Statutes Public Health(410 ILCS 535/) Vital Records Act

  1. Paternity is the legal relationship between a father and his child.
  2.  Paternity must be established for a child before the biological father’s name can be placed on the birth certificate.

Why is it important to establish paternity?

  1. Ensure a child’s right to a legal biological father-child relationship;
  2.  Add the biological father’s name to the birth certificate;
  3. Protect the biological parents’ rights;
  4. Enable access to family medical information; and
  5. Secure the child’s benefits such as financial and medical support, social security, veteran’s benefits and inheritance.

What is a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) and who completes it?

  1. A VAP is a State of Illinois form completed by biological parents to establish paternity for their child.

  2. When properly completed and witnessed, the VAP establishes the legal biological father-child relationship and allows the biological father’s name to be placed on the birth certificate.

How is paternity established?

  1. Although there are other ways to establish paternity, the easiest way is for biological parents to complete the VAP at the hospital after their child is born. 
  2. Hospital staff will provide assistance with the VAP and upon completion will add the biological father’s name to the birth certificate.

What if the mother is married to or in a civil union with a person other than the biological father of the child?

  1. Before the biological parents can complete a VAP, the biological mother and presumed parent must properly complete and have witnessed a Denial of Paternity (Denial). 
  2. Once the Denial is attained, the VAP may be completed by the biological parents and the biological father’s name will be placed on the birth certificate. Both documents must be filed with HFS.

  3. If the biological mother and presumed parent do not sign the Denial, the presumed parent’s name MUST, BY LAW, be placed on the birth certificate.

How does either parent withdraw his or her consent after completing a VAP?

  1. Either parent may withdraw his or her consent by completing a Rescission of Paternity (Rescission).
  2. The Rescission must be properly completed, witnessed and filed with Healthcare and Family Services’ Administrative Coordination Unit within 60 days of filing the VAP or Denial or the date of a proceeding relating to the child (such as a court hearing), whichever occurs earlier.

What is the hospital's responsibility?

  1. Hospital personnel are required to provide biological parents the opportunity to establish paternity for their child.
  2. Hospital personnel provide forms, written materials and an oral explanation of the paternity establishment process to biological parents.
  3. The birth certificate is completed in conjunction with the child’s paternity establishment.
  4. Parents’ questions may be referred to the Child Support Customer Service Call Center at 800-447-4278.
Hospital staff may contact their regional Paternity Establishment Liaison with questions about HOPE or email us at HFS.HospPaternity@illinois.gov.

HFS 3772 (R-1-16)

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