How do I establish paternity for my child?

It is important that you establish paternity for your child.

In addition to the obvious emotional, physical and mental benefits of having a father in your child's life, establishment of paternity is necessary to:

  • Pursue financial support from the father
  • Gain insurance benefits from the father
  • Inherit from the father's estate

The state Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) will provide the paternity test that is processed either by the Superior Court or Administrative Court, depending on where you live. The test costs $22 per person, or $66 for the father, mother and child to be tested.

If the alleged father is the biological father, he will be required to reimburse DCSS for the test. If the alleged father is not the biological father, the mother will be required to reimburse DCSS for the test, although mothers who qualify for TANF or Family Medicaid will not be charged.

Paternity and a 2015 law

Prior to the enactment of a law in 2015, DCSS officials had to wait for a court action to order a paternity test for a person refusing to pay child support. Private firms conducted the DNA tests.

After the law, DCSS took the lead on ordering the tests to determine paternity, which streamlined the effort to prove whether a man needed to pay child support.

Other ways to establish paternity

The other ways to establish paternity include:

  • Determining that the child's parents were legally married at the time of birth
  • Court order from a divorce degree, separation agreement or other administrative order
  • Signing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement (VPA) form at either the hospital where the child was born or at the Vital Records Office in the county where the child was born

Signing a VPA form at the hospital when the child is born will place the father's name on the baby's birth certificate. If the VPA form is signed at a county Vital Records Office, only the mother and child's name will appear on the birth certificate while the father's name will be amended with the birth certificate.

By signing the VPA form, the father has the right to a notice of adoption proceeding in addition to the other rights and responsibilities of being a father, including child support obligations.

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