Why Establishing Paternity is Important
Establishing paternity is the term for determining the legal father of a child. If a father is not listed on the birth certificate, legal paternity must be established to:
- obtain a support order for the child.
- obtain an order for health care coverage or cash medical support.
- protect the child’s rights to benefits if the father dies, such as money or property left in a will, Veterans benefits, or Social Security benefits.
- allow the child access to the father’s family medical history.
How Paternity is Established
When parents are married to each other, paternity is automatically established by marriage. When parents are not married, paternity can be established by submitting paperwork, or through a court or administrative legal process.
When the father and mother agree that the child is his, paternity may be legally established by completing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity ». The form must be signed by both parents, notarized, and filed with Oregon Vital Records. Your local child support office can help complete this process.
If the mother wants to establish paternity for her child, she may fill out a Declaration in Support of Establishing Paternity (PDF) » | en Español (PDF) » with or without the father’s voluntary acknowledgment.
Mothers applying for public assistance can complete this form at their local Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) » or child support office. ODHS or the Oregon Child Support Program will be in contact after receiving the affidavit to discuss the next steps necessary for establishing paternity.
If the alleged father does not believe he is the biological parent, the Oregon Child Support Program will help with genetic testing to determine whether he is or not. These genetic tests are simple, accurate, and will determine if the man tested has the genetic markers required to be the biological father.
The Oregon Child Support Program can also assist men who wish to be declared the biological father of a child but need help establishing paternity.
For more information on establishing paternity, contact your local child support office.
Paternity Establishment Only
You can apply only to place a child’s biological father on the child’s birth certificate and not seek additional child support services.
Child Support Services
You can apply to set up a child support order in addition to establishing paternity.
To apply for paternity establishment or child support services, you will first establish an online account, and can then complete an application for services. Once you submit this application, a child support case manager will get in touch to help you through additional steps based on you and your family’s needs. See Establish a New Child Support Order for more information.
You can also take the application to your local child support office or mail it to:
Oregon Child Support Program
PO Box 14680
Salem, OR 97309
Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
Parents considering signing the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities. The video below explains their rights. They can also be found on the back of the Voluntary Acknowledgment form (Vea en Español).
Steps to Establishing Paternity
This process usually takes 30-120 days.
A parent applies for child support or paternity establishment-only services.
The Oregon Child Support Program contacts the parents to sign the appropriate paperwork.
This process takes 30-45 days, but can take longer if a parent must be located. Please see Locating a Parent for more information.
- If the alleged father agrees he is the biological father, parents may sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity ». Once this form is signed by both parents, notarized, and filed with Oregon Vital Records, paternity is legally established.
- If the parents are not in agreement that the alleged father is the biological father, a parent must complete and submit a Declaration in Support of Establishing Paternity (PDF) » | en Español (PDF) » to begin a legal process that usually includes genetic testing.
Once a Declaration of Support of Establishing Parentage is received, the Oregon Child Support Program attempts to establish paternity.
If the child is not receiving public assistance from the state of Oregon, the custodial parent may choose paternity-only services. The length of time for this step varies, because it may take repeated attempts to obtain the declaration and serve the proposed order.
Once served, the mother or alleged father may request genetic testing.
If neither party takes action within 30 days of being served, the order may be finalized. This means paternity is legally established for the child, and the father is provided with the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born into a marriage. If genetic tests are requested, they will be scheduled as soon as possible, usually 15-45 days following the request.
The Oregon Child Support Program arranges genetic tests for the mother, alleged father, and the child.
These tests are more than 99% accurate, and the results are usually available within 15-30 days.
- If the test indicates that the alleged father has the genetic markers required to be the biological parent, paternity will be entered legally establishing paternity.
- If the test indicates that the alleged father is not the biological parent, then an order of non-paternity will be filed to court, and the alleged father is no longer involved. At this point, the mother will need to provide the name of another alleged father to continue.