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Paternity: Who is the Father of a Child?

​​​Paternity means legal fatherhood.  Establishing paternity helps ensure support from both parents, allows the child to have the father's last name and access family medical history.  It also allows access to social security survivor benefits, inheritance or to establish Native American tribal membership for the child.

  1. Be married to the child’s mother when the child is born, whether living together or not.
  2. Acknowledge paternity using an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form.  If either parent has any doubts about who the father is, they should not sign an AOP. If the mother is married to a man who is not the natural father of the child, the husband must also sign a Denial of Paternity prior to the child’s second birthday. More information about the Acknowledgment of Paternity process can be found here.
  3. Be determined as the father by a judge through the court process.  You may apply for services with CSS to request DNA testing to establish paternity and child support orders.
  4. Adopt the child.


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