Paternity is the legal identification of the father of a child. If parents are married at the time a child is born, the law presumes that the husband is the father of the child. If the parents are not married, then paternity needs to be established through a legal process. By establishing paternity, the father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate and he will gain legal rights to his child, as well as responsibilities for supporting the child.
What Is The Process For Adding a Father to a Birth Certificate (Establishing Paternity)?
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 and submit it to the State Vital Records Office. The Acknowledgement of Paternity form is a sworn statement voluntarily completed by the parents at the hospital at the time the child is born, or at a later date at any local office of the Department of Social Services (see Directory of Department of Social Services Offices), or at the Department of Public Health. It affirms that the named father is the biological father, and has the same force and effect as a court ordered judgment of paternity . Once the Acknowledgement of Paternity form is completed and processed, the father’s name will be included on the child’s birth certificate.
Note that the Acknowledgement of Paternity form is not available online.
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.
How Much Does It Cost to Establish Paternity?
There is no fee for establishing paternity.
How Long Will It Take to Add the Father’s Name to the Birth Certificate?
Normal processing time is approximately four (4) to six (6) weeks.