Paternity / (Child Born out of Wedlock)
Establishing paternity can make a difference for your child’s whole life and gives the child a legal father. It also gives the father both rights and obligations related to helping take care of his child. The law requires both parents to support their child. Establishing paternity is the first step in making plans to provide the financial support your child will need in a way that is fair to both parents.
Conflicts over parenting time and custody may put your child(ren)’s health and well being at risk. You and the other parent are encouraged to participate in the Proud to Parent free service.
How is Paternity Established?
Marriage: A man is presumed to be a child’s father if:
- He and his wife are married when the child is born; or,
- If the child is born not later than 300 days after the marriage ends. If a husband says he is not the child’s father or another man claims to be the child’s father, the court may require a genetic test to determine paternity.
Paternity Affidavit: At the hospital, parents can establish paternity within the first 72 hours after their child’s birth by both parents completing and signing a Paternity Affidavit at the hospital. At the local Health Department, paternity can also be established by completing a Paternity Affidavit:
- Any time before the child is emancipated (age 19 unless otherwise ordered by the court),
- As long as no father is listed on the birth certificate.
Court Determination: Paternity may be established by filing a paternity action in court. Parents may agree to the paternity or may request a genetic test. If a man signed a Paternity Affidavit and then wants genetic testing, he must request it within 60 days of the date he signed the Affidavit or the court can deny his request.
Signing a Paternity Affidavit is voluntary
You may not be able to reverse paternity and its legal responsibilities once you sign a Paternity Affidavit. You do not need to sign a Paternity Affidavit now. It is your right to obtain a genetic test first.