eCSS Header

Establishing Paternity

Paternity means fatherhood. When the parents are not married, it is important that paternity be legally established. Otherwise, the child has no legal father.

To establish paternity a judge or other official may enter a court order or the local county Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Unit may establish paternity without going to court. Also, an Acknowledgment of Paternity may be signed by both parents at the hospital when the child is born or anytime thereafter.

Father and Son out for a walk

Enjoy a video on the importance of paternity.
The Power of Two - Video


Some important reasons to establish paternity:

  • Identity - Children have the right to know their mother and father
  • Money- The father may be required to pay child support if paternity has been legally established
  • Medical- It may be possible to obtain health insurance coverage for the child through the father's employer
  • Survivor's Benefits- If the father is disabled or dies, his child could qualify for a number of benefits: Social Security, inheritance, veteran's benefits and life insurance

Either parent may initiate a paternity action anytime before the child reaches the age of 18 and in some circumstances up to age 21. Paternity can be established even if the father lives in another state.


Every person who brings a child into the world should accept his or her share of the financial, legal and emotional responsibility.