Paternity is the legal identification of the father of a child. Once paternity is established, the acknowledged father will gain legal rights to his child, as well as responsibilities for supporting the child.
If a mother is not married at the time a child is born and has not been married at any time between conception and the birth of the child, no father will be named on the birth certificate unless both parents complete an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, or unless ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Acknowledgement of Paternity
If both parents are in agreement as to who is the biological father, they must complete the Acknowledgement of Paternity form. The form is a sworn statement affirming that the named father is the biological father of the child. The form may be completed at the hospital at the time the child is born. The form may also be completed at a later date, at any local office of the Department of Social Services (DSS), or at the Department of Public Health. (See Directory of DSS offices) Once the Acknowledgement of Paternity form is completed and processed, the father’s name will be included on the child’s birth certificate.
If you complete the Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital or at a DSS location, there will be no fee.
Court Ordered Paternity
Another way to establish paternity is through a court order. Court ordered paternity becomes necessary when the parents disagree about the identity of the father, or if either parent is unwilling to sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form. If paternity is established through a court order, a certified copy of the court order must be submitted to the Department of Public Health. Once the certified court order is processed, the father’s name will be included on the child’s birth certificate.