Your Ultimate Guide to Establishing Paternity

Each year, 300,000 paternity tests are taken in the U.S. The purpose of a paternity test is to determine a child’s biological father.

If an unmarried couple has had a child, it’s smart for the father to establish paternity right away. Doing so helps protect the child, father, and mother, and reduces the likelihood a judge will refuse custody or visitation for the father. It also ensures the child receives benefits from the father, such as child support.

Regardless of the domestic situation, each parent (the mother and father) have a legal responsibility to provide for their child. Establishing paternity is the first step in meeting this legal obligation.

Keep reading to learn more about establishing paternity.

Methods for Establishing Paternity

There are two main ways a father can acknowledge their paternity. They include:

1. Sign the Declaration of Paternity

If the father is present when the child is born and they sign the Declaration of Paternity, they are legally named as the father. This documentation is needed to list the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate, too.

2. Complete the Affidavit of Paternity

If the child’s father is not present when the child is born, they can sign an affidavit of paternity between when the child was born until they turn 18. If the document isn’t filed prior to the child’s birth certificate is issued, then an application to alter the birth certificate must be submitted to have the father’s name added.

Establishing Paternity with an Uncooperative Father

If the child’s alleged father does not acknowledge the child as theirs, but you want to establish paternity, it’s a good idea to contact the local Office of Child Support Enforcement. There are several steps if this is the road taken, including:

  • Meeting the mother
  • Signing of affidavit by the mother that names the father
  • Locating the alleged father
  • Contacting the father to provide an opportunity to accept paternity
  • Requesting all parties subject to genetic testing
  • Inform all parties of testing results

If the test results who that the alleged father is the child’s biological father, and they don’t contest the results, they are recognized as conclusive within 60 days.

However, of a couple wants to handle this process on their own to be sure about paternity, they can do so using a home DNA paternity testing kit. These allow the parents to avoid the costs of involving the court or other organizations to determine paternity.

Hire an Attorney for Help Establishing Paternity

If a child’s mother or father finds that the other parent doesn’t want to cooperate with the paternity efforts, hiring an attorney is a smart move. Someone in the family law field will ensure that the proper steps are taken for establishing paternity.

If you are a dad, you know how challenging your role is. Our goal is to make it easier by providing helpful information. Check out some of our other blogs to learn more.


Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

Recent Posts