Establish Paternity

Establish paternity is the legal term for determining the biological father of a child.  Child Support will assist with establishing paternity at no cost when you are receiving Full Services.  There are many benefits to a child when paternity is established. Establishing paternity may:

  • Create a bond between the child and the father and the father’s extended family,
  • Allow the child to be covered under the father’s health insurance plan,
  • Provide the child with a sense of family,
  • Allow access to family medical records,
  • Allow the child to receive social security or veteran’s benefits on the father’s account, pension benefits, and inheritance rights.

Paternity can be established several ways:

  • Genetic testing, sometimes called DNA testing, is available from Child Support at no cost when you are receiving Full Services.  The result of the genetic testing is used to legally determine the father.  Genetic testing is not available if paternity has already been established.
  • Presumed paternity – If a child is born during a marriage or within 300 days after a marriage is terminated (divorce, death, annulment) the husband is presumed to be the father of the child.
  • Court Adjudication – legal action that begins with a summons and complaint. A court order establishes the father-child relationship.
  • Adoption
  • Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment – a process that involves signing a form to legally establish the father-child relationship when a child is born to unmarried parents.  When the form is completed and signed, the father's name will go on the child's birth certificate. 

The North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form can be completed when both parents are sure who the father is.  The process is completely voluntary. The form cannot be completed online but a sample form is available for review.   Federal and state laws require unmarried parents receive a verbal description of rights, responsibilities, and legal consequences of voluntarily acknowledging paternity before signing the Acknowledgement of Paternity form.

The form is a legal document so signing it is very serious.  A completed and signed form establishes paternity.  This means that a legal father - child relationship is created.  This has the same effect  as a father - child relationship established by a court order.

By signing the form, the parents give up:

  • The right to have an attorney represent them.
  • The right to have genetic testing (DNA testing) to prove that the man is or is not the biological father of the child.
  • The right to have a court determine if the man is the biological father of the child.

Signing the form does not automatically give one of the parents primary residential responsibility (custody).  If the parents cannot agree on primary residential responsibility, it must be decided by a court.  Under state law, when the father's relationship to the child is legally established, the rights of both parents are the same and primary residential responsibility will be determined based on the best interests of the child. Contact Child Support for more information.