If you are the mother of a child and you want the child’s father to pay child support, the first thing you need to do is establish paternity. In other words, you need to prove that the man in question actually is the father of the child. Your local child support agency can help you to do that.
The Interview Process
The first step of establishing paternity for child support is to schedule a paternity interview with your local child support agency. You should bring the following things to the interview:
- Your Name and Proof of Identification
- The Names of the Child and the Alleged Father
- Any Letters, Pictures, or Gifts That Show That the Person in Question Acknowledged Their Paternity Already
- Other Supporting Information
When you sit down with the caseworker for the interview, he or she will ask you personal questions about your relationship with the alleged father of your child. Those questions could include how long you were seeing each other, any expenses you incurred because of the pregnancy, and the circumstances of your child’s birth. All of that information will remain confidential.
In some cases, the father may have already admitted his paternity when the child was born. If so, an affidavit from the hospital can start the child support process. If paternity is in question, however, the alleged father can pay to have a DNA paternity test performed. A third option is that you, as the mother, may need to petition the court to have the alleged father ordered to take a paternity test.
Other Benefits of Proven Paternity
While proving paternity is important in order to get child support, it also has other benefits for the child. For example, he or she may be covered under the father’s medical insurance. He or she will also be eligible to inherit life insurance and other benefits when the father passes away.
Proving Paternity Early
even if the alleged father of your child can’t pay child support because he is out of work, or if you don’t need the child support right now, you should still try to prove paternity early. That way your child will be taken care of, as well as given access to medical benefits and the possibility of inheritance, later on.
Filing Paternity Lawsuits
In many cases, the alleged father may voluntarily submit to paternity testing. However, if he does not, you may need to file a paternity lawsuit. If that happens, it will be up to the court to order him to submit to the test. Depending on the outcome, one of you is likely to have to pay for the cost of the test. The judge will determine which one.
For more information on establishing paternity for child support and other related topics, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css.