Below are answers to questions parents frequently ask. For more information, or to get answers to a question you don't see here, you can contact an Ohio CPR Relationship Manager at 888-810-OHIO (6446) or click on MedChat link (lower right corner of the page) to speak to a live representative.

Representatives are available Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

What is paternity establishment?

  • 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.

  • For unmarried parents, paternity must be established before the father’s name can appear on the birth certificate.


How do I establish paternity for my child?

In Ohio, paternity can be established in three ways:

  1. Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit (JFS 07038): A legal form parents complete to add the biological father's name to the child's birth certificate. By signing the form, parents are establishing paternity for their child - meaning 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 the child support enforcement agency (CSEA) in the mother’s county of residence. Click here to go to the Office Locator Map and find the appropriate CSEA office.

  2. Administrative Order of Paternity (JFS 07774): For unmarried parents that have not established paternity through another method and wish to get genetic testing, the child support enforcement agency can conduct the testing and issue an order of paternity if the man is indeed the biological father of the child. 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. Click here to go to the office locator map and find the appropriate CSEA office.

  3. Court Order of Paternity: Paternity may be established through Juvenile Court and sometimes through Domestic Relations Court (as part of a divorce.)


+ What is an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit Form?

  • Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit is used to add the biological father to the child’s birth certificate in the event the mother was not married at the time of birth or within 300 days of the birth. It is a legal document and both parents must sign the affidavit. Completing the affidavit is voluntary.

+ Is the Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit the right option for me and my child?

Establishing paternity is an important decision. Completing the paternity affidavit form is the quickest and easiest way for unmarried parents to establish legal fatherhood and have the father’s name placed on the birth certificate. Establishing paternity gives you and your child the rights and opportunities you need and deserve.

  • By having his name placed on the birth certificate, the father gains legal rights to his child. His child then has access to benefits such as Social Security, life insurance, military benefits, and inheritances.
  • Your child will also have access to their father’s health insurance as well as both families’ medical histories and lineages.
  • Just as importantly, establishing paternity allows both mother and father to develop an emotional bond with their child and share in the responsibilities and rewards of parenting.
  • If you have any doubts about who the father of the child is, do not sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. You may want to get genetic testing completed before you make a decision

+ Who should NOT complete the paternity affidavit?

  • A married mother
  • A mother divorced within 300 days of the child’s birth unless she obtained a final divorce decree stating the husband is not the father of the child.
  • A mother who is legally separated from her husband

There are unique circumstances that may prevent an individual from using the affidavit to establish paternity. If you are unsure, contact your local CSEA.

+ What are the requirements to complete a paternity affidavit?

  • Each parent will need a picture ID and Social Security number.
  • Father’s: (date of birth, place of birth, highest grade completed, address, employment and insurance), as well as both parent’s: (Full name, current address, state and county of birth, date of birth, and SSN).
  • Both parents must sign the affidavit in the presence of a public notary and have the affidavit notarized, but they don’t have to sign it at the same time.
  • Notaries are provided free of charge at hospitals, local registrars and CSEAs.

+ What are the guidelines regarding the type of identification that is acceptable for paternity affidavit?

  • To complete the process, each parent must show a valid, government-issued photo ID. Accepted forms of ID include:

    Driver’s license

    State ID card (available at The Department of Motor Vehicles offices for a small fee)

    Consular ID card or other government-issued, valid identification from country of origin (must be listed in the International ID Checking Guide to be accepted if it is from another country)

+ How much does it cost to complete the paternity affidavit?

  • There is no charge to complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit.

+ What happens if the father does not sign the paternity affidavit?

  • At the hospital, unmarried parents may complete and sign the affidavit to establish paternity for their child. If both parents do not sign the affidavit, the father’s name will not go on the birth certificate and the child has no legal father at that time. Since the affidavit must be signed by both parents, if either one chooses not to, paternity cannot be established by this method. However, the parents may choose to establish paternity at a later time.

+ What happens if the father is out of state and won’t be able to sign the paternity affidavit. Can I send it to him?

  • Yes. After he completes his section and gets his signature notarized, he can send the affidavit directly to the Central Paternity Registry. The mailing address appears on the affidavit under the “Notice of Rights and Responsibilities and Due Process Safeguards”. Affidavits must be sent within ten (10) days of the last signature.

+ Can non-U.S. residents sign the paternity affidavit?

  • Yes, as long as the child was born in Ohio, or one or both of the parents live in Ohio. Regardless of a parent’s citizenship, they can establish paternity for their child, who is a U.S. citizen as long as all required documentation and proper identification is provided. This form is not used to track non-U.S. residents.

+ How does signing the paternity affidavit affect custody and visitation?

  • Paternity establishment and custody are two separate issues. Under Ohio Revised Code, if a child is born to an unmarried mother, the mother is the sole residential parent and legal guardian of the child unless a court order is issued. Once paternity is established, the father may seek visitation or custody rights through the court system.

+ Will the father be required to pay child support if he signs the paternity affidavit?

  • No. The father is not immediately ordered to pay child support. In most cases, it will be up to the guardian of the child to request support. However, if you are receiving certain benefits, a father may be required to pay child support. If you have specific questions about your situation, please contact your local child support enforcement agency.

+ Can minor parents sign a paternity affidavit?

  • Minor parents can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit form. There are no additional requirements for minor parents.

+ What if parents change their minds later?

  • Either person who signed the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit may bring an action to rescind it within 60 days of the last signature on the affidavit. The child support enforcement agency where the child or guardian or legal custodian of the child resides can assist with this process. It involves filling out a rescission form, signing up for genetic testing, and completing genetic testing. The CSEA will issue an order of paternity based on the results.

  • After the 60 day period, the only way to rescind the affidavit is to bring a court action to rescind within 1 year after it has become final. A man presumed to be the father of the child under Ohio law who did not sign acknowledgment, either person who signed the acknowledgment, or a guardian or legal custodian of the child may bring an action to rescind the affidavit on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.

Paternity Affidavit FAQs  

+ We’re not sure if he’s the father, but he wants to be on the birth certificate. What should we do?

  • If either parent is unsure if a man is the father of the child, they should consider pursuing genetic testing. The Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit form should not be used unless both parents are certain that the man listed on the form is the biological father.

+ How is genetic testing done?

  • The genetic, or DNA test, is administered by collecting samples and sent to a laboratory to compare the details from the child’s sample with similar traits in the man’s and mother’s sample.

+ What will the genetic test show?

  • The test will show with 99.9% certainty that a man is the biological father of the child. It can also show if a man is not the biological father of the child

+ Is the test painful?

  • Not at all. In most cases, a buccal swab of the cheek is taken from the mother, child and alleged father. The swab consists of a gentle swab of the inside of each cheek and takes less than a minute.

+ How old does my child need to be to have genetic testing?

  • Genetic testing can be performed on children as young as newborns by utilizing a buccal swab test, which takes a sample from the inside of the cheek instead of a blood sample.

+ If the genetic test shows there is a 99% probability that a man is the biological father, can the man be the father without going to the court?

  • Yes, if the testing is done outside the court/CSEA. If the testing is done by the CSEA, then the CSEA will issue an administrative order determining the existence of the father and child relationship.

+ Who is responsible for the fee of the genetic test?

  • When the child support enforcement agency (CSEA) is establishing paternity, the genetic material (blood or cheek cells) is generally collected at the CSEA. The CSEA pays for the test initially, but may request that the father reimburse the CSEA for the test later on. The cost for these tests is relatively inexpensive. You should discuss this with the CSEA.

+ Where can I go for genetic or DNA testing?

  • Unmarried parents may obtain genetic testing through the local child support enforcement agency (CSEA). Parents should request the testing in the mother’s county of residence. Click Here to locate the CSEA for the mother’s county. After getting the results of the genetic tests, the CSEA will issue an order of establishment or non-establishment of paternity. The CSEA can also submit paperwork to change the child’s birth certificate accordingly.

+ The father is out of state. How can we get genetic testing?

  • The mother may contact the child support enforcement agency (CSEA) in her county for assistance in obtaining genetic testing when the father lives out of state.

Genetic Testing FAQs  

+ How do I obtain a birth certificate? How much does a birth certificate cost?

  • Birth Certificates can be ordered through the Bureau of Vital Statistics via online, by mail, or in-person. Click here for ordering and cost details.

+ We want to change the child's name. How can we do that?

If the parents are establishing paternity using the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit, they may change the child's name on the Affidavit. The child's original name should be filled in on the first line of the Affidavit, and "Yes" should be checked next to the question "If a birth certificate for the child has already been filed, do you now wish to change the child's name?" The child's new name should be entered where it asks "If "YES", give the child's new name." (Please note: This form can only be used if the parents have not already established paternity through any method.) If the parents have already established paternity, they need to do the following:

  • If parents already completed a paternity affidavit and now wish to change the child's name, they may go to probate court to pursue a legal name change.
  • If parents established paternity through the CSEA using genetic testing, they may return to the CSEA and ask their caseworker to complete and sign an Addendum to the Administrative Order to Modify the Birth Record – Child Surname form (JFS 04070), which should be sent to the Central Paternity Registry.
  • If parents established paternity through the courts, they may return to the court and ask for a completed and signed Determination of Paternity (HEA 3029) to be sent

Birth Certificate FAQs

+ The father is taking care of the child but has not been legally established as the father. The mother is not available to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. How can he establish paternity?

  • The affidavit is a voluntary form to be completed by both biological parents. If either parent is unavailable or willing to sign the affidavit, the other parent may pursue paternity establishment through genetic testing at the child support enforcement agency (CSEA) or through court.

+ The father is deceased. How can I prove that he is the father?

  • You may contact your local CSEA to see if they can assist you. You may need to pursue the matter through court. Click Here to locate the CSEA for your county.

+ I’m getting a divorce. My husband is not the father of my child, so why is the hospital telling me I have to put his name on the birth certificate? The real father is here and he wants to be on the birth certificate.

  • In Ohio, if a woman is married at the time of the birth or at any time during the 300 days prior to birth, the husband is considered to be the legal father of the child. The hospital may not put the “real”/biological father’s name on the birth certificate.

  • However, if the mother got divorced during her pregnancy, and the divorce decree states that the husband is not the father of the child, the mother should provide the hospital with a copy of the finalized divorce decree at the time of her child’s birth. The mother and the biological father may then complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit at the hospital if they wish.

Special Situation FAQs