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Establishing Paternity

If you are not married to the father of your child, the Agency can help you legally determine the identity of the child's father. This process is called "establishing paternity." Establishing paternity guarantees a child's right to receive financial support, medical support, and inheritances from the father.

The length of time it takes to obtain a judgment of paternity depends on what steps will be necessary to complete the process. If a man admits paternity and signs papers declaring himself to be the father, then the process is very fast. Frequently, however, it is recommended that genetic testing be done to confirm that a man is the father of a child; this can take a month or so to schedule and receive the results. If there is a trial by jury, it may take months to be scheduled and heard by the court.

A way to legally establish paternity that does not require the services of the Child Support Agency is for both parents to complete a "Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement" form. However, filling out this form does not establish a child support order in and of itself. For more information about this form, you may call any local hospital, the Register of Deeds office, or the Child Support Agency.

A child support order can not be obtained without either 1) judgment of paternity, 2) genetic testing which establishes a 99% or greater likelihood of paternity, or 3) a filed Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity and subsequent motion to the court for child support.