Establishing Paternity for Your Child's Sake
What is paternity?
Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity means legally naming a father for your child. When a child is born to parents who are married to each other, the mother’s husband is pressumed to be the father of the child and paternity is automatically established.
If a baby is born to parents who are not married to each other, paternity is not established automatically.
Why is establishing paternity important?
Paternity gives your child….
- A sense of identity and belonging.
- Increased likelihood to know about diseases or disorders that exist in the fathers family.
- Entitlement to the father’s financial and economic benefits, such as child support, health insurance, social security, pensions and veterans benefits.
- The right to inherit from the father in the event of his death.
- Establishing paternity is a must, in order to get a child support order.
How and where can paternity be established?
Paternity can be established at your local child support agency. Genetic testing will be conducted on all parties involved by using a buccal swab to collect DNA samples from the inside of the mouth. The samples will be sent to a laboratory to be analyzed. Test results are usually back within 2 weeks. The results will be mailed to all parties involved. Results must be 99% or greater to determine the father.
What should I bring to the genetic testing appointment?
You must bring a photo I.D. of each adult being tested. Children must be present for testing to be conducted.
What if I am not sure who the father is?
If you are unsure who the father of the child is, DO NOT sign the acknowledgment at the hospital. This is when genetic testing should be done. Contact your local child support agency to inquire about genetic testing.
What do I do if I completed the Paternity Affidavit but now I think I am not the Dad?
You need to contact the CSEA in the county where the mom resides to sign a rescission document as long as it has been 60 days or less since the affidavit was signed. After the 60 days you must contact a private attorney.
Can paternity be established if the alleged father is in another state or is incarcerated or does not appear for testing?
Yes, paternity can be established in these situations. The agency can make arrangements for the alleged father to be tested out of state or at the location where he is incarcerated. If the alleged father fails to appear for testing, the agency will initiate the appropriate court action for paternity.
What if I do not know where the father of my child is?
Mahoning County Child Support can assist your in attempting to find the father so paternity can be established or to get a child support order established.
How long after a child is born can paternity be established?
Paternity may be established from birth until 23 years of age.
Can the child support agency assist me with visitation and custody?
No, the agency cannot become involved in visitation or custody issues. You should contact a private attorney to handle visitation and custody.
If you have any other questions or would like to start a case, please contact the Mahoning County Child Support Agency at (330) 740-2073.