Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Here are a few examples of why you should consider establishing paternity for your child:

Self Esteem – Generally children respond better when given love and support from both parents. Also, when paternity is established, the father’s name is listed on the birth certificate, which provides your child with a complete birth record.

Shared Parenting – Parenting is the responsibility of both the father and the mother. Early paternity establishment may lead to increased involvement of the father in the child’s life. Once a legal relationship is established the father is more likely to maintain his own relationship with his child over the long-term.

Medical History – Today there are many medical advancements and it is important to have a complete medical history. A child is more likely to have a complete history if paternity is established. Knowing the family’s medical history is important for children and their physicians, particularly relating to genetic traits, histories of diseases or conditions that may present any special health problems. In case a child or parent needs a donor for a transplant, knowing who the members of the immediate family are is critically important.

Important Rights – When paternity is established, the father has the same rights as a father of a child born in a marriage. These include such rights as the ability to address visitation and custody with the court, and to give input regarding decisions that impact the child. In the unfortunate instance that the father dies or is permanently disabled, having a legal father ensures benefits for the child, such as medical or insurance benefits, inheritance, Social Security, disability, or veteran’s benefits.

Secure Adoptions – By establishing a legal relationship, a father ensures himself of having rights. Paternity establishment assures that the biological father can decide if his child may be adopted.

For more information, you can contact  the Department of Justice Paternity and Child Support Division.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I establish paternity through a voluntary process?

It's simple! If you are unmarried, anytime after delivery of the child but before the child's 18th birthday and before the death of either parent, the mother and father can sign a document called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity stating the father is the biological parent. The parents must provide a photo ID and sign in the presence of a Notary.

Where do I get the form?

You can get a Paternity Acknowledgement form at a:

  • Hospital or birthing center
  • Office of Vital Statistics
  • Local Health Centers
  • Department of Justice / Paternity and Child Support Division

If we establish paternity, will child support enforcement be a part of our life?

No, not unless the mother applies for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) services will the case be referred to PCSD where she will be required to cooperate by identifying the father; or if either party applies for services with our office.

How does signing the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity affect my child's birth certificate?

If you are unmarried at the time of your child's birth, the biological father's name will not be included on the child's birth certificate unless both parents complete the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form (VAOP). If you and the biological father are unable to execute VAOP at the time of delivery you may obtain a form from any of the previously listed locations. The form must be completed by both parties and notarized.