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Paternity Establishment

Legal paternity can be established in several ways. For example, a man may sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit, or a court or the CSEA may issue an order establishing the father-child relationship. Legal paternity must exist before a support order may be established.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is paternity establishment necessary?

Paternity should be established for all children whose parents were not married to each other when the child was born.

What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

Establishing paternity carries numerous advantages for both parents and the child:

  • financial assistance from child support collections
  • access to medical insurance benefits and other legal entitlements such as Social Security benefits, disability benefits, inheritance and pension and veterans' benefits
  • providing the child with a sense of identity and family heritage
  • strengthens the social and psychological bonds between a father and his child
  • completes the child's biological/medical history

What is the easiest way to have paternity established on my child?

If you are currently pregnant and facing an out-of-wedlock birth, you can contact the social worker at your prospective hospital for more information concerning in-hospital, paternity establishment (post delivery) through completion of the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. This is the quickest method available for paternity establishment. However, in order to go this route, the baby's father must be willing to cooperate and must sign the affidavit and there can be no possibility of another man being the father. When parties complete this form, the right to genetic testing is waived. Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavits can be rescinded within 60 days from the date of signature or challenged in court up to one year based on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.

How do I request paternity establishment through the CSEA?

If you are receiving Ohio Works First (OWF) benefits, the Franklin County Department of Human Services will automatically refer your case to the CSEA for paternity establishment. If you are not receiving OWF benefits and are interested in pursuing paternity establishment and receiving follow-up child support services, you can request that an enrollment packet be mailed to you by calling the agency at 525-3275.

How will I be notified when the agency is ready to proceed with my case?

After you have completed your intake questionnaire and been enrolled for child support services, you will receive a letter from the agency stating the time and place of your administrative paternity conference. An order for genetic testing will also be included with this letter. Plan to be on time for your scheduled conference and to bring your child with you.

What happens when I arrive at the CSEA on the day of my paternity conference?

The conference participants (that's you, your child and the alleged father) will be seated in a reception area until called upon by one of the agency's hearing officers. While you are waiting, you and the alleged father will be given some forms to complete.

Can paternity be established at the administrative paternity conference?

Yes. At this conference, you and the alleged father may both agree to sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit, providing no other man has been named as the father and the child was born out of wedlock. Once this happens, each party has 60 days to reconsider and file a notice to rescind their acknowledgment. If no written objections are received during this 60 day period, the paternity action becomes final. The parties' right to genetic testing is waived. If the parties elect to establish paternity through acknowledgement and the birth certificate on the child has already been filed, there is a section on the paternity affidavit that may be completed to effect a name change for the child.

What happens when either party declines to to sign the paternity acknowledgement affidavit?

When one of the parties declines to sign the paternity acknowledgment affidavit, genetic testing will be ordered. Genetic testing is a procedure in which tissue samples are taken from the mother, the alleged father and the child. If the genetic tests show a 99% or greater probability that the male is the biological father of the child, then our hearing officer will issue an order establishing paternity. The CSEA will send the genetic test results to you by mail. Genetic test results will not be released to anyone over the telephone.

How is genetic testing done?

The genetic testing process is simple and painless. Sponge-like swabs are rolled across the cheek area on the inside of the mouth to collect buccal cell samples. These samples are then sent out to a lab where the DNA material is analyzed. This test will show whether the man who is alleged to be the father is really the biological father of the child.

If I am ordered to undergo genetic testing, who pays for this test?

Genetic testing is paid for by the State of Ohio.

How long does it take to get the results of the genetic tests?

Genetic test results are usually available within six to eight weeks.

What if one of the parties fails to appear for the paternity conference?

When one of the parties fails to appear, the administrative paternity conference will be closed. Once this happens, the only way for paternity to be established is through court action.

Will it be necessary to attend any hearing or appear in court after the administrative paternity order becomes final?

When the order becomes final, the issue of paternity is resolved. A hearing or court appearance on this issue is no longer necessary. However, if the mother and father are not living together with the child as a family, it will be necessary to schedule a hearing so that a child support order can be issued.

When will this set-support hearing be scheduled?

The set-support hearing will not take place until after the administrative paternity order or administrative paternity acknowledgment becomes final. Those who have elected to sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit will be notified by mail regarding the date of their set-support hearing. For those who have been ordered to undergo genetic testing, set-support hearing notifications will be mailed out along with the results of their genetic tests.

I'm receiving public assistance. How important is it that I attend this administrative paternity conference?

As a recipient of public assistance, you are required to be present at this conference. Failure to participate in the administrative paternity process could result in a CSEA imposed sanction and could lead to a reduction in your welfare benefits.

John O'Grady President
Marilyn Brown
Kevin L. Boyce