If the parents are not married to each other when the child is born, then paternity must be established by signing a voluntary acknowledgment or by getting a court order.    

Voluntary Acknowledgment

Paternity is established when the parents sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage” form. Once both parents have signed the form in front of a notary public, the form is filed with the Registry of Vital Records (Registry) and the man becomes the legal father and his name can be added to the child’s birth certificate. The form can be signed:

  • at the hospital when the child is born
  • the city or town clerk’s office
  • the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (RVRS) office in Boston
  • any DOR child support office

If there is any question about who the father is, DOR recommends genetic marker paternity testing before an Acknowledgment is signed.

If either person changes his or her mind and wants to rescind (cancel) the Acknowledgment, that person has 60 days after the Acknowledgment is completed to file an action in court to rescind the Acknowledgment.

Paternity is automatically established if the parents are married to each other when the child is born. The husband is the legal father and his name will be placed on the child’s birth certificate. If the mother is married when the child is born, but her husband is not the father, the mother and the child’s father can still sign an Acknowledgment as long as the mother and her husband sign a form acknowledging that the husband is not the father.

Court Order

If the mother and/or the man that may be the father do not want to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, either person may apply for DOR services and DOR will assist in obtaining a court order that establishes paternity. When DOR is providing services, DOR arranges for genetic marker paternity testing before asking the court to establish paternity

Establishing Paternity Video