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Departments » Child Support » General Information

Establish Paternity

Paternity establishment means identifying and legally deciding who is the father of a child. When the father's name is added to your child's birth record, the child has the right to receive child support, insurance, tribal enrollment and inheritance rights. It may make you child eligible for social security or veteran benefits it the father dies or is disabled.

How is Paternity Established?

If the mother is not married and there is no question as to who is the father of the child, a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form can be completed. This form establishes legal paternity. This form can be obtained at the hospital when you child is born, or from your County Child Support Agency. Both parents are required to sign this form. The signatures must be notarized. The form along with a fee (generally $20.00) are sent to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Madison.

If the mother and father get married after the child is born, the parents can sign a legitimation form. This form can be obtained at the Child Support Agency. Legitimation gives the child and the father the same rights, as they would have had it the parents had been married before the child was born. This form should be signed by both parents, and mailed to the State Vital Records Office in Madison.

Paternity can also be established through court action. Application are available at the County Child Support Agency to request their assistance in establishing paternity. A court hearing will be scheduled. If the alleged father denies paternity of the child the court will order that all parties submit to genetic tests. If the test show the person named can not be the father of the child, the case against that person will be dismissed. If the tests show a 99% or greater probability another court hearing will be scheduled.

At this hearing the court will ask the alleged father if he admits or denies paternity.

If he denies paternity he can request a trial with either the Judge or a Jury deciding if he is the child's father.

If he admits paternity the court will enter an order regarding child support, health insurance, payment of genetic tests costs, payment of birth expenses, tax exemption, custody and physical placement.

The alleged father may want to contact the Child Support Agency to attempt to stipulate (legally agree) to the establishment of paternity, child support, repayment of fees and custody and placement issues. If a stipulation is reached the court hearing will be dismissed.
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