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PATERNITY ESTABLISHMENT OVERVIEW  

Paternity means legal fatherhood.  Paternity establishment is how a biological father becomes the legal father of his child if he and the mother are not married. Paternity can be established any time before the child becomes 23 years old. Paternity can be determined even if the other parent lives in another state or a foreign country.  

In Ohio, if a woman is married at the time of birth or at any time during the 300 days prior to birth, the husband is presumed to be the natural father of the child unless paternity is established for the biological father. 

If a child’s parents are not married to each other when the child is born, that child does not have a legal father. Paternity must be established to create a legal relationship between a father and child and before the father’s name can appear on the birth certificate. For unmarried parents in Ohio, paternity can be established one of three ways:

  • Completing and signing  an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit (JFS 07038): If both parties agree they are the biological parents of the child, the "Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit” can be completed.  By signing the form, parents are establishing paternity for their child - meaning legally recognized fatherhood. This form is voluntary, there is no cost to completing, and is the quickest way to establish paternity and legally recognized fatherhood.   

Paternity affidavits can be completed in the hospital at the time of birth or afterwards at your local registrar/health department or county child support enforcement agency (CSEA). Either parent can also call  the Ohio Central Paternity Registry (CPR) at 1-888-810-OHIO (6446) and request a copy be mailed to you.    

  • Genetic testing, followed by an Administrative Order Establishment of Paternity (JFS 07774) at your local child support enforcement agency:  Genetic testing may be conducted provided there is not a final determination of paternity, there is uncertainty as to the parentage of the child or if paternity is contested. The mother, alleged father(s) or the child or child's guardian may request that the CSEA conduct genetic testing to determine the father of the child. The CSEA will then order all parties to submit to genetic testing and will issue an Administrative Order of Paternity based on the outcome of the genetic test. For a paternity order to be established, the test must show at least a 99% probability of fatherhood.  If parties request genetic testing through the CSEA, the CSEA will schedule a support hearing to establish a support order for the child(ren) once paternity is established. If either party fails to submit to the test or fails to submit the child for genetic testing, the CSEA may request the court to find the party in contempt and determine the issue of paternity.       
If the mother lives in Ohio, please contact the child support enforcement agency (CSEA) in the mother's county of residence. If the mother lives outside of Ohio, you may contact the CSEA in the father's county of residence.     
  • A court order of paternity: A court order of paternity may be issued through Juvenile Court or Domestic Relations Court (as part of a divorce).   

     

Central Paternity Registry   
   
Federal regulations require each state to maintain a paternity registry for all children born out of wedlock.  In Ohio, this is as known as the Central Paternity Registry  (CPR). The purpose of the registry is to collect and process all paternity documents initiated by the CSEAs, hospitals, department of health bureau of vital statistics and courts. The registry verifies that no other paternity document exists for a child, then extracts specific data elements from each document.  This information is maintained in a single database (CPR database). Once the registry inputs the paternity documents in the database, the original paternity documents are forwarded to the Ohio Department of Health so the birth record can be updated with the father's name and stored permanently. Within a few days, the information is made available to the CSEAs to assist them in establishing support. The CPR in Ohio provides establishment outreach, education, training, guidance, assessment, and technical assistance to birthing hospitals, local health departments, child support enforcement offices, courts, community partners and unmarried parents.  CPR also operates a call center (1-888-810-OHIO (6446) that serves as a resource for parents, birthing facilities, registrars, courts, and CSEAs to receive responses to their questions regarding procedures or specific cases.    

   

Paternity Links and Resources     
     
  • Paternity Establishment Brochure        
  • To request the assistance of the CSEA in establishing paternity, you will need to complete and submit a form called, "Application for Child Support Services, Non-Public Assistance Applicant  (JFS 07076)." This form is also available from your county's Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). We may already have you on file, depending upon whether you are already registered for certain child support services or if you are receiving services through the Office of Family Assistance or Protective Services.  Simply contact your county's CSEA and let them know you wish to begin child support services.  
  • To find the CSEA in your county, call 1-800-686-1556 or use the online ODJFS County Directory.  Each of the state's 88 counties has a CSEA, staffed by people who are well-versed in Ohio laws, practices and who can answer your questions and explain your rights.  
 
     

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Last Updated 5/24/2021