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  Please note that the CSEA cannot open a child support case prior to the birth of the child.
  What is paternity?

Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity means legally naming a father for your child. When a child is born to parents who are married to each other, the mother's husband is assumed to be the father of the child, and paternity is automatically established. If a baby is born to parents who are not married to each other, paternity is not established automatically.

You must have paternity established in order to have a child support or medical support order.

  What are the benefits of establishing paternity?

Paternity establishment can provide basic emotional, social and economic ties between a father and his child. Once paternity is established legally, a child gains legal rights and privileges, as well as financial assistance from child support collections, access to medical insurance benefits and other legal entitlements for the child, including:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Inheritance
  • Pension benefits
  • Veteran’s benefits

The child also has a chance to develop a relationship with the father, and to develop a sense of identity and connection to the "other half" of his or her family.

  How do I establish paternity?

Listed below are just a few of the more common ways that Paternity may be established:

Presumed paternity is when a man is presumed to be a child’s legal father because the child is born while the mother is married to the man or because the child is born within 300 days after the marriage ends. There is a long-standing legal presumption that a child born in the context of a marriage is the child of the couple.


Genetic Testing can be requested by the mother, alleged father(s) or the child or child’s guardian. For paternity to be established through genetic testing, the results must show at least a 99% probability of parentage.


Voluntary acknowledgement is when parents acknowledge paternity by completing a notarized form or affidavit at the hospital, local registrar’s office, or the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Child Support Enforcement personnel work with local hospitals to facilitate the completion of the acknowledgements at the hospital when the child is born.

  What if I want to rescind a voluntary acknowledgement?

Either parent may rescind the acknowledgement no later than 60 days after the date of the latest signature by:

  • Requesting an administrative parentage determination from the Child Support Enforcement Agency in the county in which the child or legal custodian of the child resides, and
  • Delivering a written notice to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Child Support, Central Paternity Registry. The written notice should include the name of the child, the name of the County Child Support Enforcement Agency, and the date the administrative parentage request was made to the county agency.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency will work to determine whether or not there is a parent and child relationship between the alleged father and the child. After the 60-day period, the only way for either parent to rescind the acknowledgement is to bring a private court action to rescind. This must be accomplished within one year after paternity was established. Generally speaking, a court action might be brought on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.



  What is Genetic Testing?

Genetic material is obtained from the parties by gently rubbing a buccal swab (large Q-tip) on the inside of each person's cheek. Paternity is established through comparison of DNA obtained from the child, the mother and the alleged father. The DNA test utilized with buccal swab specimens is the same DNA test utilized with blood specimens.

These tests are used in courts throughout the country and are more than 99% accurate. Wood County schedules Genetic testing generally on the last Tuesday of the month. There is no minimum age for a child to be tested through the buccal swab method.

  Genetic Testing vs. Paternity Acknowledgement
  How do I schedule genetic testing?

The CSEA can schedule genetic testing to determine if a man is the father of a child, in cases where the child was born our of wedlock and no paternity documents have been filed.

You must apply for services first by completing a IV-D application, in order to schedule genetic testing. If a married mother has conceived a child with someone other than her husband, a private court action would need to be filed in order to establish paternity with the child’s biological father.

This means that a private attorney, not a Child Support Enforcement Agency Attorney, will need to be consulted, as the services of the Child Support Enforcement Agency cannot be used to establish paternity in this scenario. In other words, legal paternity is already established within the context of a marriage, and the state cannot proceed to disestablish paternity.

Remember, if the child was born during marriage or if paternity was previously established, the CSEA cannot proceed with genetic testing.

  What will the paternity caseworker need to know to try to establish paternity?
  The caseworker needs as much information as you can give about the alleged father and the facts about your relationship with him, your pregnancy, and the birth of your child. Some of these questions may be very personal, but are required in the process of determining the existence or non-existence of a parent and child relationship. Your answers will be documented on a form, but State agenies must keep the information that you give confidential.
  What if he denies he is the father, or he's not sure?

Paternity can be determined by the evidence presented in court, including highly accurate tests conducted on the man, mother and child. Genetic test results indicate a probability of paternity and can establish a legal presumption of paternity.

These tests can exclude a wrongly accused man and can also indicate the likelihood of paternity if he is not excluded. All parties in a contested paternity case must submit to genetic tests at the request of either party.

  What happens if I am not sure who the father is?

When more than one man could be the father of a baby, each may be required to take a genetic test. These tests are highly accurate, and it is almost always possible to determine who fathered a baby and to rule out anyone who did not.

  When will I receive the results?

The results will be received by the CSEA usually within 4 - 6 weeks. If the results indicate a 99% or higher probability that the alleged father is the father of the child, the CSEA will issue an order establishing paternity.

If the results indicate a probability less than 99% that the alleged father is the father of the child, the CSEA will issue an order indicating that the alleged father has been excluded as the father of the child. The mother and alleged father will receive a copy of the paternity order along with the genetic test results.

  Is there Legislation that allows a father to request the court to vacate a finding of parentage?

ORC 3119.962 lists conditions for granting relief from a final judgment of paternity. The conditions listed include providing the Court with genetic testing results, from tests administered no more than six months prior to the filing of the Motion, demonstrating a zero percent probability that the person filing the Motion is the father of the child.

The statute provides that even if the person seeking relief signed an acknowledgement of paternity or if the person is the presumed legal father, the person should not be denied the opportunity to file a Motion for relief from a paternity determination based on the acknowledgement or presumed paternity.

Two recent Court of Appeals decisions held certain legislation to be violations of the constitutional requirement for the separation of legislative and judicial powers. (Van Dusen v. Van Dusen and PoskarbiewiIcz v. Poskarbiewicz) Generally speaking, a Court is the authorized power to determine if it is in the best interest of a child to vacate a judgment establishing parentage. If such a judgment would be vacated, any support already paid would generally not be recovered, and any arrearage owed would remain collectable.

County Child Support Enforcement Agencies, whose attorneys represent the state, are expected to contest attempts to disestablish paternity, especially in cases where the child and parent have received benefits from the state.

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