Establishing Paternity

General FAQs

Establishing Legal Father/Child Relationship and Duty of Support. Genetic Tests are Recommended to Establish Paternity.

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What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

  • Paternity establishment can provide basic emotional, social and economic ties between a father and his child. Once paternity is established legally, a child gains legal rights and privileges. Among these may be rights to inheritance, rights to the father's medical and life insurance benefits,social security and possibly veterans' benefits. The child also has a chance to develop a relationship with the father, and to develop a sense of identity and connection to the "other half" of his or her family.

What will the caseworker need to know to try to establish paternity?

  • The caseworker needs as much information as you can give about the alleged father(s) and the facts about your relationship(s), your pregnancy, and the birth of your child. Some of these questions may be personal. The CSEA must keep the information that you give confidential. The CSEA requires the party seeking support to complete a questionnaire. You may need to provide birth certificates, proof of marriage, or court orders depending on the facts of your case.

What if he denies he is the father, or he's not sure?

  • Paternity can be determined by the evidence presented in court, including highly accurate tests conducted on the man, mother and child. Genetic test results indicate a probability of paternity and can establish a legal presumption of paternity. These tests can exclude a wrongly accused man and can also indicate the likelihood of paternity if he is not excluded. All parties in a contested paternity case must submit to genetic tests at the request of either party.

What happens if I am not sure who the father is?

  • The more information that is provided to the CSEA, the better the chances paternity may be established. When more than one man could be the father of a child, each may be required to take a genetic test. These tests are highly accurate, and it is almost always possible to determine who fathered a child and to rule out anyone who did not.

Who can request paternity establishment services from the CSEA?

  • The mother, legal guardian, the child born out of wedlock, or the man alleging to be the father may request the establishment of paternity through the CSEA for a child born out of wedlock for whom paternity has not been determined.

    How is paternity established?

    Paternity can be established in Ohio by a Paternity Affidavit, an Administrative Order based on genetic testing results, or a Court Order. See also,"Who is a presumed father?".

When and where is the paternity acknowledgement signed?

  • When the child is born and paternity is not in dispute, the hospital will assist both parents in completing the Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit. If anyone is presumed to be the father or if both parents are not willing to sign the document the Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit cannot be signed. This is a legally binding document, signed under oath. Please read it carefully and provide only truthful information.

    If the paternity affidavit is not signed, the alleged father's name will not appear on the birth certificate. If the mother of the child is married, the name of the husband will appear on the birth certificate, without the need for the husband to sign an affidavit. The same conditions apply for filling out the form at the CSEA that apply at the hospital. If the Paternity Acknowledgement is signed and notarized at the CSEA, the CSEA will send the document to the Central Paternity Registry at no cost to you. The CSEA strongly encourages genetic testing when a Paternity Acknowledgement has not been signed.

Can I change my mind after the Paternity Acknowledgement is signed?

  • Either party may rescind the Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit no later than 60 days after the date of the latest signature. After 60 days, an Acknowledgment is considered final and cannot be changed through the CSEA.

Who is an alleged father?

  • An alleged father is any man who had sexual intercourse with the mother 30 days before or 30 days after the probable period of conception.

Who is a presumed father?

  • A man is presumed to be the natural father of a child when a final and enforceable determination of paternity does not exist and:

    • The man and child's mother are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, divorce, or dissolution.

What if there are more than one presumed and/or alleged fathers?

  • The CSEA will make every attempt to notify all presumed and/or alleged fathers of a date and time for genetic testing. A genetic sample will be collected from the parties who are present. All parties may be tested at separate times.

Who is an established father?

  • A man who has been declared by a court or administrative order to be the father of a child or a man who has signed the Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit and 60 days have passed.

How does genetic testing work?

  • Genetic testing is a quick and painless way to establish paternity. The CSEA uses the buccal swab (a large cotton swab) method by which a genetic sample can be collected by swabbing the inner facial cheek. The samples are collected by a trained technician.

  •  It takes three to four weeks, once the last sample is collected, to obtain results. The parties will receive copies of the test results and the administrative order depending on the outcome.

What is the cost for genetic testing?

  • If paternity has not already been established there is no cost for genetic testing. If paternity has previously been established by any method, you may be required to pay.

How will the genetic test results be issued?

  • The results will be issued by regular mail. Please keep the CSEA updated with any changes in address so all paperwork will be received. Please read all of your paperwork.

What will happen when the genetic test results come back?

  • Upon receipt of a genetic test result of 99% or higher the CSEA will then issue an administrative order of paternity and will set the case for an administrative child support hearing. If the result is returned at 0.00% the CSEA will issue an administrative order of non-paternity and close the case for the alleged father.