Paternity Information Page

Everything fathers need to know and what the government fails to tell you!

The Paternity Information Page was created to present paternity information for fathers from a fathers point of view. Since "PATERNITY" is the state of being a father, fatherhood, and male parentage, a frank and revealing presentation of paternity information by and for fathers is made. Currently paternity is strongly linked to child support; therefore, child support and its link to paternity is discussed. Concerning child support enforcement agencies: keep in mind that the main purpose for creating these agencies was and is to recoup the money (AFDC, food stamps) given to a single parent family with your child or children. In almost every case, the non-applicant parent - the father - was never asked if he would want custody of his child(ren) so they would not have to be on public assistance at tax payer expense.

"Paternity establishment is a prerequisite for obtaining a child support order." [2000 Green Book, SECTION 8. CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM, Establishing Paternity]

Please note that the word "paternity" is gender biased. If this was replaced by a word that referred to the color of someone's skin, or religious background it would be recognized as "discriminatory" and unacceptable. We strongly encourage replacement of the term "paternity" with the non-gender biased term of "PARENTAGE".

If you are an agency worker or policy maker and would like assistance or input on paternity issues, web pages, or policies, we are offering our help. Please feel free to contact

What is Paternity ?
Paternity is fatherhood, simple enough.

What i$ Paternity Acknowledgment?
Paternity Acknowledgment is the name given to the voluntary proce$$ of the unwed father being recognize as the alleged biological father (not birth father - fathers do not give birth!) of a child or children for child $upport purposes ONLY. A little known fact of these Paternity Acknowledgment$ is that custody is granted to the mother. Most often nurses or midwives are required by the state to ask the alleged father to sign the Paternity Acknowledgment Form.

Please note that paternity acknowledgment DOES NOT establish legal, court recognized paternity, and may establish custody without due process (administratively designated custody).

Be aware that there are many different "feel good" names given to this voluntary process. Some of these names are: Declaration of Paternity, Recognition of Parentage (ROP), Paternity Establishment, Paternity Opportunity Program (POP), and A Simple Acknowledgment of Paternity (ASAP Program). Even though the names may be different, the outcome is still the same.

On the other hand, with the legal recognition of paternity through District Court, the father is responsible for the monetary support of the child according to each states adopted child support guidelines, AND has the RIGHT for legal, enforceable, visitation.

Presumption of paternity
To make things simple, individual states have developed a set of circumstances or tests that, if met, automatically presumes paternity. The most common circumstance is known as the Mansfield Rule. Basically, this rule states that if a child is conceived within marriage, the husband is presumed to be the father. Since this presumption is not always true, some states have introduced "milkman" legislation to challenge or rebut this presumption.

Delaware's Presumption of Paternity.

Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity out of marriage is a little more complicated. Establishing paternity out of marriage can be done in several ways depending on your state's laws. Below are some of the most common ways to establish paternity. Please refer to your state's laws.
Your name being on the birth certificate does NOT automatically
establish legal paternity. Refer to your state's laws for specifics.

With the passage of Welfare Reform, watch out for a streamlined system for establishing paternity. States are now required to meet a 90% paternity establishment standard. Below is an excerpt from the article, A Brief Look at the Welfare Reform Bill (1996).

Under welfare reform it will be easier and faster to establish paternity's. The voluntary in-hospital paternity establishment program is strengthened. States must publicize the availability of and encourage the use of voluntary paternity establishment processes. Those persons who fail to cooperate in establishing paternity will have their monthly cash assistance reduced by at least 25 percent.

In June of 1996, President Clinton announced three actions to strengthen the child support enforcement system. One of these actions defines stricter paternity cooperation rules for welfare applicants and recipients.

I Want To Be The Father, She Doesn't!
With all of the laws and procedures for establishing paternity, some fathers have had a difficult time in establishing paternity when the mother does not want you involved. Below are some suggestions for fathers to increase their chance of establishing paternity. These suggestions include, but are not limited to the following.

Baby Selling
Women have found a way to make it hard for a father to be "responsible" and at the same time profit from having a baby. It is not uncommon for a mother to go to another state, one that the father does not know about, give birth, and then give the baby up for adoption. The adoption agency then pays the mother for the baby.

Whose Last Name Does the Child Have?
Jim Elshoff, who has a private law practice in Montana states that..."In Montana, 3 Supreme Court decisions hold that whether the parents were married or not, the child should have the surname of the natural father, despite the fact that the mother may have custody, despite the fact that the father is delinquent in support, and despite the fact that the father has not visited the child."

Check your state for legal presedence

Why the big push for paternity establishment?
The following excerpt is from Information Memorandum OCSE-IM-92-09 dated December 31, 1992.

The issue of paternity establishment has been recognized by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) and the States as a major national concern.

The sheer increase in the number of children being born outside of marriage during the last thirty years has commanded our attention because, in many cases, it directly and adversely affects the economic well-being of our nation's children. As a result, this Office recognizes that there is an urgent need to develop -- at a minimum -- practices and policies which make it as easy as possible for fathers to voluntarily establish their child's paternity.

As the saying goes, "follow the money" and this applies to paternity acknowledgments as well. State child support enforcement programs need money to operate and the federal government is quite aware of this. The federal government helps fund state child support enforcement programs according to how much child support is collected in each state. This has created an incentive for states to increase their collections so the state programs can qualify for more money from Uncle Sam. Below is the table the federal government uses to reimburse the state child support enforcement agencies.

           TABLE 8-4.--INCENTIVE PAYMENT STRUCTURE               
            Collection-to-cost ratio                     received   
Less than 1.4 to 1......................................         6.0
At least 1.4 to 1.......................................         6.5
At least 1.6 to 1.......................................         7.0
At least 1.8 to 1.......................................         7.5
At least 2.0 to 1.......................................         8.0
At least 2.2 to 1.......................................         8.5
At least 2.4 to 1.......................................         9.0
At least 2.6 to 1.......................................         9.5
At least 2.8 to 1.......................................        10.0
Source: Office of Child Support Enforcement, U.S. Department of 
Health and Human Services.                                                   

Leave it to the states to find a way to profit from child's called THE FLOAT. States have been trying hard to funneling all child support through their coffers, giving the reasons of efficient accounting and disbursement of payments to justify their middle man status. The actual reason is the state gets to keep the interest from the child support payments that sit in the bank for up to a month. All you need to do is the math. For example, Oregon takes in approximately 25 million dollars in child support a month. The interest off this money is not spare change.

Another interesting tactic child support agencies use to deceive is to require, or in many instances, threaten, people to pay child support through the child support division. Not only does this create more money to float, but now the agency can brag on how much more child support is being collected. This is false because these agencies are not doing a better job in collecting support, what they are doing is requiring people who have been paying support regularly to now use their system.

The Parent Trap A CBS 2 News Special Assignment. The Department of Motor Vehicles has sent out thousands of driver's license cancellation notices to parents who have back child support. CBS 2 News' Troubleshooter Judd McIlvain says he has received many complaints from parents who say they are paying their child support, but their driver's licenses are still being taken away.

Another illustration linking paternity establishment to increasing child support is made clear by the title of this 1995 report by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement called The Child Support Improvement Project: Paternity Establishment.

Article in the Detroit Free Press titled "Hospitals urged to help find fathers. Effort is to reduce unpaid child support".

Because the federal government gives the states an incentive to collect as much child support as possible, this leads to the "high ball, low ball" parody. Since child support is calculated on the combined income of the mother and father, the state Child Support Enforcement Division uses the obligors (person who pays child support) highest income figure - high ball - while using the obligees (person who receives payment) lowest income figure - low ball - to calculate the maximum child support.

Paternity Acknowledgments Forms (PAF)
To make it easy for the child support division to increase collections, the Paternity Acknowledgment Form (PAF) has been created. Other names are: Declaration of paternity and paternity opportunity program. When this form is signed by the alleged father the child support division can start collecting child support. States have programs that encourage the voluntary signing of a Paternity Acknowledgments Form. In most instances, a nurse or midwife is required by the state to ask the alleged father to sign a PAF.

It is suggested that you visit your local hospital long before the child's "due date" and pick up a copy of the PAF and the corresponding information pamphlet. If you read carefully through the pamphlet you get the impression that by signing the PAF you will bring untold status upon yourself while proving to the world that you are doing the "right" thing.

There are blatant lies in these pamphlets. For example, the Montana State "Paternity Information" pamphlet states that "custody starts with the mother". Not only is this unconstitutional but it goes against the Montana law stating legislative intent - joint custody. Oregon State has two information pamphlets, one for the mother and one for the father. We find that the most important information in these pamphlets is altogether missing from these pamphlets.

Signing the Paternity Acknowledgment Form

It is important to keep in mind that by signing the "Paternity Acknowledgment Form" (PAF), you are giving your states Child Support Enforcement Division legal power to collect child support from you. Depending upon your state's laws, this support can be taken in one or more of the following forms: garnishing wages, keeping state and federal tax returns (1994), 1995, seizing liquid assets, taking insurance settlements, and turning you over to a collection agency. Other mechanisms used to gain child support are: revoking state licenses (more) (more) , and the possibility of placing you in jail. One Presidental candidate would like to deny credit cards to parents who owe child support. How do they know where you are? The Federal Government has requested that states implement a new hire reporting system, (more) where new hire information will be sent to the Office of Child Support Enforcement so it can be crossmatched with existing cases in the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) and the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. 25 states are currently participating in the program...look for one in a state near you.

Check out the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Welfare Reform Bill) and see what the federal government is requiring the states to do concerning paternity and child support enforcement.

By signing the PAF you are NOT establishing legal visitation or custody. Also by signing the PAF you are giving up "due process" concerning taking care of visitation, custody, and support all in one swoop. Your local District Court can establish paternity, child support, visitation, and custody while also providing due process.

You may get the feeling from the above paragraph that we are discouraging signing the PAF. Not true. We are against signing a PAF while not knowing ALL the implications that go along with the signing of the PAF. If you are comfortable with signing the PAF and all the requirements that go with it, congratulations.

Here is a link if you feel that you have been a victim of restricted paternity laws.

Administrative Determination of Paternity

Governmental agencies such as child support divisions and services to children and families will state that they do not have the power to designate custody. They are half right that they can not designate legal custody, which can only be done in a court of law by a judge, but the dirty little secret is that they actually do designate custody, administrative custody. When an agency provides assistance (AFDC, Food Stamps, etc.) to a family with a child, the agency is admitting that the applicant parent (95% single mother households) is in possession of the child 50.1% of the time. By definition, 50.1% of the time is primary custody. These same governmental agencies have policies on fraud but rarely never challenge or investigate if the child is in the residence of the applicant parent. Because of this administrative custody designation, it causes a foot race to the welfare office to see which parent can claim the child first. Whomever claims the child first gets not only assistance in the form of money, food, housing, etc., the governmental agency protects the applicant, because, if heaven forbid, the applicant parent was not truthful, it would shed light onto how poorly the agency verifies its applicants.

Child support enforcement agencies have made it easy for themselves in determining paternity by passing rules to administratively designate paternity if certain circumstances are met. In Information Memorandum OCSE IM-93-04, (November 4, 1993) the rules of administrative determination of paternity for five states are outlined.

Alaska's Determination of Paternity

The State of Alaska has a Statute concerning the Disestablishment of Paternity.

Web paternity information
States have published information on the Internet to publicize their paternity programs to make it as attractive as possible for fathers to voluntarily sign paternity acknowledgments. This purpose of this section is to point out and identify paternity information put on the web by local governmental agencies, mainly child support enforcement agencies, which are false and/or misleading.

The first step in looking at these web pages is to see who is sponsoring these pages and programs. You will find from the below pages that the sponsors are the child support enforcement agencies of that state.

Please note the one main theme that runs throughout these paternity acknowledgment programs is one of responsibility. In actuality what these programs are promoting is "selective responsibility". A program that centers on child support only while ignoring access is telling fathers that they are only looked at as being a financial contributor. This is unacceptable.

Hennepin County, Minnesota

The caring people of Hennepin County have named their paternity program, Recognition of Parentage (ROP). A better name that describes this program should be RIP, as in RIP-OFF. By signing the ROP, you conveniently give up the right to have an attorney represent you, the right to genetic tests, and the right to a court hearing in the establishment of paternity. If you did not catch the last sentence, it needs to be repeated again.

By signing the ROP, you conveniently give up the right to have an attorney represent you, the right to genetic tests, and the right to a court hearing in the establishment of paternity.

The only thing that is convenient about signing the ROP is the ability to reach into your pocket, without any access to your child. Can you say "child ransom."


The State of Texas has made it easy to view their, Texas Child Support Enforcement Paternity Information, "oh what a (financial) feeling" statement. The following paragraph is straight from their information.

"Once we find him, we'll need to prove that he is your baby's father. One way is if he signed the birth certificate or an Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital. It will also help if you can provide letters in which he claims he is your baby's father, pictures of him with your baby, diaries, calendars, Mother's Day or birthday cards or proof of any money he has given you or your baby. If you have these items, please bring them to our office."

In 1993 the Texas Supreme Court recognized a biological father's constitutional right to establish paternity EVEN when the child is born to a married couple. See In the Interest of J.W.T., No. D-1742.


Another example is from the Child Support Enforcement Division of Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland), with their Paternity Establishment web page. Even though this page is from the child support division, they mention Support fifth behind Identity and Medical on why you should establish paternity. This is very disingenuous. This pages FAQ's are also very interesting. The main theme that runs through this page is the "support of both parents". But the fact that this page omits is that when the mother and child are on welfare the ONLY person responsible for supporting the family is the father. In rounding out this page there is one word that is mysteriously missing...VISITATION.


Coming from California the Riverside County, California, District Attorney - Family Support Division. This page supports signing what is called the "Declaration of Paternity". This page admits that, "In most cases, signing the form will make it easier to establish paternity in a court later." Then what is being signed? If it does not establish legal paternity then what does it do? Well, you are signing the right to pay child support without establishing legal paternity and visitation...which again was never mentioned.

Below is the actual disclaimer on the State of California Paternity Declaration.


If the parents of the child are not legally married, the father's name will not be added to the birth certificate unless you: (1) sign a declaration of paternity in the hospital or (2) sign the form later or legally establish paternity through the courts and pay a fee to amend the birth certificate.


The State of Mississippi has a program called "A Simple Acknowledgement of Paternity" or ASAP PROGRAM. This page does discuss visitation and says;
"The Division of Child Support Enforcement does not represent either party in establishing visitation or custody rights. However, establishing paternity is the first step needed in order to ask a judge for visitation privileges. The father will need to seek legal counsel for advice on visitation and/or custody."
Not so fast State of Mississippi! Simply tell us who is designated custodian when this, "simple acknowledgement" is signed? It has to be the parent who will receive child support, or in other words, the mother. Even though the State of Mississippi states they do not represent either party when a paternity acknowledgement is signed, they have already handed the mother custody without a judges ruling .


The State of Illinois web page on Paternity Establishment details several arm twisting efforts to establishing paternity if the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form is not signed. The web page states;

Please note that all a mother needs to do is select a man who has a reasonable income, place that name on a form, and then that man has to prove his innocence against the full force and resources of a state agency. In essence, the man named is "guilty until proven innocent", or until he reads the local newspaper.

Illinois even has a program that enlists the help of Grandparents to establish paternity called Grandparents A Link in Paternity Establishment.

Are you POSITIVE you are the father?
There is a big difference between "I might be the father" and "I am positive I am the father." It might be in your best interest to find out for sure if you are the father. Check out this link if you "might" be the father:

DNA Diagnostics Center: Paternity DNA Testing Information and Services

Your states paternity information

These state profiles contain descriptions of State child support enforcement programs. Some of these of profiles date back to September, 1994. For the most up-to-date information you may want to contact your specific State IV-D Office or Web site for updated information.

Select from the following States: Look for paternity information in section "C"

AL - AK - AR - AZ - CA - CO - CT - DE - DC - FL - GA
GU - HI - ID - IL - IN - IA - KS - KY - LA - MA - ME
MD - MI - MN - MO - MS - MT - NE - NV - NH - NJ - NM
NY - NC - ND - OH - OK - OR - PA - PR - RI - SC - SD
TN - TX - UT - VT - VI - VA - WA - WV - WI - WY

Child Support

General non-Federal child support related links
State and Local IV-D Agencies on the WEB
Is there a Statute of Limitation to determine paternity?
Some states have laws on the books stating anywhere between 30 days to 2 years for establishing paternity. These laws have been overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Until challenged, states have been reluctant to take these laws off the books.

What you can do concerning paternity?
When paternity is discussed, demand that "parenting plans" and "custody options" should also be included. The emphasis is on parenting. Paternity is gender biased, parentage is gender neutral.

The new Welfare Reform Bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton gives each individual state control over how welfare money is spent in their state. In the next couple years your States Legislature will be molding new laws concerning paternity, your children, and your money. The question is: Are YOU going to be involved in this process? If the answer is no then you only have yourself to blame. If yes, then seek out your local fathers organization and be heard.

Access the Thomas Legislative Guide and use the word "paternity" for your search.

The message I would like to give any father, whether here or across the world, who thinks he has been treated unfairly, is that you can not expect someone else to take action for you. You have to speak up. You have to take action. You have to do what needs to be done to draw the attention of the appropriate people in government, in the public, in your community, wherever this needs to be raised as an issue. It's up to you. You can't sit back. You have to band together. You have to do the work. We all have to do it because no one else is going to do it for us.

DADS provides a simple list of Do(s) and Don't(s) during family breakup or divorce.

Comments, suggestions and links are appreciated, jedwards@PEAK.ORG

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