What is Paternity and why is it important?
Paternity Establishment is the legal determination of fatherhood. Paternity establishment is important for many reasons, including legal rights and privileges. It can provide emotional, social, and economic ties between the father and child. The child may gain access to medical histories, inheritance rights, access to the father’s medical and life insurance benefits, and the child may qualify for certain benefits, such as social security and veteran’s benefits. Paternity must be established before a support obligation can be ordered.
Paternity Establishment (Legal Determination of Fatherhood)
- Our office offers free genetic testing services for most applicants;
- Parents may also sign the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity.
I am pregnant and will need to have paternity testing done once the baby is born. What do I need to do?
- You will need to submit an application for services, after the baby is born.
How is paternity testing conducted?
- Genetic testing to establish paternity is conducted using buccal (oral, mouth, or cheek) swabs. The inside of the mouth is swabbed with an item similar to an ordinary cotton swab to collect DNA samples from the inside of the cheek. These swabs collect the DNA samples quickly and painlessly.
- Buccal swabbing provides the same accurate results for paternity testing as using blood samples. Once the buccal swabs are collected, the samples are sent to an accredited lab to complete the analysis to determine whether there is at least a 99% probability of paternity or whether the male is excluded as a possible father of the child.
How much does it cost to have paternity testing through Medina County CSEA?
- Paternity establishment is typically provided at no cost to a customer who signs an Application for Services with the Medina County CSEA;
- Individuals who are non-cooperative or who file through court may be ordered to pay for their testing.
How long does it take to get the results of the genetic test?
- Genetic test results are usually mailed within thirty days of the last person tested.
What will happen if an individual does not appear for genetic testing?
- The action will be referred to the Medina County Prosecutors Office and filed in court. If the alleged father does not cooperate with the court process, a capias (warrant) could be issued or the court may take other steps to resolve the matter.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PATERNITY (Paternity Affidavit)
What is a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit?
The Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit is a legal document for women who are not married at the time of the child’s birth, or not married within 300 days from the date of conception, that establishes paternity. This document is generated from either the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, or after the birth at a local health department or a Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). BOTH parents must sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity affidavit to establish paternity this way.
What can this Document do?
- Add a father to the original birth certificate when there is no father listed on the birth certificate, and also change the child’s name when the form is completed correctly.
- If a father has not been listed on a birth record, an Acknowledgement of Paternity affidavit can be used until the child reaches 23.
If the parents sign the Affidavit, will the CSEA start to collect support?
Both parents have a duty to provide for their child. If either parent requests a child support order, or if the custodial parent is on certain types of public assistance, a child support order will be established.
How can I get a copy of the Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP)?
- For a copy of a recent AOP, allow 12 weeks after the date of signature on the AOP before placing your order;
- Complete the Application for Certified Copies: www.odh.ohio.gov/vs
I just had a baby and am married, however, my husband is not the father. How do I get his name removed from the birth certificate?
You will need to have genetic testing completed to exclude your husband and include the biological father. You can start this process by submitting an application for services.
What if the alleged father resides in another state or county?
The individual can be scheduled for paternity testing in the county in which they reside or can be mailed the AOP (Acknowledgement of Paternity) if appropriate.
How can I establish paternity for my child if the possible father passed away?
The CSEA will work on a case by case basis to determine if paternity establishment services can be completed. If an autopsy was completed, it is possible that a DNA sample may be available to be used to establish paternity. In some cases, it is possible to complete the genetic testing by obtaining DNA samples from the father’s relatives, including the father’s parents or siblings.
The father of my child is incarcerated, can he sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit or get genetic testing?
Yes, an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit can be sent to him or he can be set up for genetic testing by the CSEA.
What happens if the child’s alleged father did not sign the paternity affidavit and refuses to submit to genetic testing?
Legal action may be pursued if the alleged father did not sign the paternity affidavit and refuses to cooperate with genetic testing ordered by the child support enforcement agency. If the alleged father does not cooperate with the court process, a capias (warrant) could be issued or the court may establish paternity by issuing a default judgment.
What happens if I am not sure who the father is?
The CSEA will work with you to name all possible fathers. Multiple individuals can be tested discretely. Please provide as much information as you can, on all alleged fathers.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I know if paternity has been established on a child?
For children born after 1997, a father listed on the birth certificate indicates paternity has been established either by presumption (marriage) or legal document (court order / acknowledgment of paternity).
Who can request genetic testing to establish paternity?
- The mother, alleged father(s) or the child’s guardian can request testing through the CSEA for any child under the age of 23;
- If an Acknowledgement of Paternity was signed at the hospital for the child, and you are now considering genetic testing, it is very important that you contact the CSEA quickly. The Acknowledgement of Paternity can be rescinded for 60 days after it has been signed. Once 60 days pass, the Acknowledgment of Paternity is final and the CSEA will not be able to provide genetic testing services.
How do I establish paternity on my child?
- Genetic testing through the CSEA (Administrative Order);
- Sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity at the Hospital, Heath Department or CSEA;
- Court Order
Who has legal custody of my newborn baby?
According to Ohio Law, an unmarried mother who gives birth has legal custody of her child born in Ohio.
If paternity and support orders are established, does that automatically give the parent visitation rights?
We recognize that parenting time is a very important matter between the parents and the child, and we encourage parents to work together to provide both the emotional and financial support needed for the well-being of a child. However, visitation/parenting time issues are matters handled by the court. The CSEA is unable to provide services related to visitation or custody. The establishment of paternity or support does not provide automatic visitation/parenting time rights.
Can I change my child’s last name?
- Yes, if both parties agree when completing the Acknowledgement of Paternity;
- Yes, if paternity has not been established and both the mother and alleged father complete the Addendum to the Administrative Order to Modify the Birth Record – Child Surname form (JFS 04070) prior to receiving positive genetic testing results;
- Otherwise you would need to file for a name change through Probate Court.
Can you Establish Spousal Support/Alimony in addition to Child Support?
No, only the court can establish Spousal Support/Alimony. The CSEA cannot establish or modify Spousal Support.