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Am I a Daddy?

Elizabeth S. Pagel, PLLC July 20, 2023

There are several different ways to establish that a particular man is the legal father of a child.

A presumption of paternity means that the law will just assume that he is the father unless/until he proves (usually through DNA evidence) that he is not the biological father.

A man is presumed to be the father of the child if:

  1. He was married to the mother at the time the child is born, or if the child is born within 301 days after a marriage ends.

  2.  He married the mother after the child is born, AND voluntarily claims to be the father, AND one of the following:

    • Files an assertion of paternity with the Bureau of Vital Statistics, OR

    • Voluntarily is named on the child’s birth certificate as the father, OR

    • Promised in writing to support the child as his own.

  3. He continuously resided with the child for the first two years of the child’s life, and represented to others that he is the father.

Acknowledgement of Paternity:  the mother and a man claiming to be the father may sign an acknowledgement of paternity, either in the hospital when the child is born or afterwards.   This must be done using a very specific form, and must be signed under oath.  It is NOT the same as just putting “dad’s” name on the birth certificate.  If the child has a presumed father, that presumed father must also sign a denial of paternity—again, under oath.  The law does not require that there be DNA testing before signing an Acknowledgement (or Denial) or Paternity, but it’s a good idea.  Do not sign an Acknowledgement or Denial or Paternity without first seeking legal counsel, as it will have long-reaching legal consequences.

If a man has a reason to believe that he is the biological father of an unborn child, he should file a Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity with the bureau of vital statistics.  This can protect his rights should the mother choose to place the child for adoption. This must be done either before the child is born or within 31 days after the child is born.  Failure to register with the paternity registry may result in the father’s parental rights being terminated with no notice to him.