Before a father can request custody, visitation or child support, he must be determined under the law to be the father of the child, which is also called establishing “paternity.”

When Paternity Already Established

Paternity is already established (meaning that the father does not need to do anything extra to establish paternity) if:

  • The father and the child’s mother are legally married or were married to each other when the child was born or conceived
  • The father’s name is listed on the birth certificate
  • A court order names the individual as the child’s father
  • The individual has legally adopted the child

Establishing Paternity

If paternity has not been established yet, an individual can establish it by filing a Complaint to Establish Paternity, Custody, Visitation, and Child Support. A Complaint to Establish Custody can be filed by the mother, the presumed father, or an interested third party such as the District Attorney. An individual can also include a request to establish paternity as a part of another child related proceeding such as guardianship, child support, or custody

Evidence that can be used to establish paternity includes:

  • The man and the child’s mother lived together for at least 6 months prior to the child’s conception and continued to live together through the period of possible conception
  • Before the child’s birth, the man and the child’s mother attempted to marry each other even if the marriage was invalid provided the child was born during or within 285 days of the marriage
  • The child was received into the man’s home and the man openly holds the child out as his own
  • Results of DNA testing prove the man is the father
  • The father voluntarily acknowledging paternity by both parties signing a notarized Affidavit of Paternity

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