Paternity Overview

Please note that the CSEA cannot open a child support case prior to the birth of the child. You must have paternity established in order to have a child support or medical support order.
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 presumed to be the father of the child, and paternity is automatically established. If a child is born to parents who are not married to each other, paternity is not established automatically.

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, which may include:

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


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.

Voluntary Acknowledgement

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.

How 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.


  • 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 Wood County CSEA will assist in this process as needed.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency will work to determine whether or not there is a parent-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 file an action in court.

Genetic Testing

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. 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. There is no minimum age for a child to be tested through the buccal swab method.

Scheduling genetic testing
Wood County typically schedules Genetic testing on the last Tuesday of each month. In order to schedule genetic testing, you must apply for services first by completing a IV-D application. Please note, if a married mother has conceived a child with someone other than her husband, a private court action may need to be filed in order to establish paternity with the child’s biological father.

The results will be received by the CSEA usually within 2 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.

Uncertain paternity
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 child and to rule out anyone who did not.