Massachusetts law about paternity (parentage)

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on establishing who is a child's legal parent.

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Table of Contents

Best bet

Paternity issues: family law advocacy for low and moderate income litigants, 3d ed., 2018, Chapter 7. Mass. Legal Services.
Includes how to establish paternity, how to answer a complaint, and custody and visitation, with checklists and sample forms.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 209C Children born out of wedlock

“A man is presumed to be the father of a child and must be joined as a party if (1) he is or has been married to the mother and the child was born during the marriage, or within three hundred days after the marriage was terminated by death, annulment or divorce.”

MGL c. 46 Return and registry of births, marriages & deaths

MGL c. 119A, § 3A Establishment of paternity; genetic marker tests

MGL c. 190B, § 2-114 Descent and distribution: parent and child relationship

MGL c. 209D, § 7-701 Proceeding to determine parentage

MGL c. 273, § 15 Duty to support child born out of wedlock; conclusiveness of adjudication or acknowledgment of paternity

Massachusetts regulations

830 CMR 18A.1 Cooperation by applicants for and recipients of public assistance with efforts by the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Revenue to establish parentage and establish, modify and enforce child support orders

Federal laws

42 USC §§ 651 et seq. Child support and establishment of paternity


Paternity forms (English & Portuguese)

Selected cases

Web sources

Child support (TAFDC), MassLegalHelp.
"The TAFDC Child Support rules require all recipients to "cooperate" in identifying and locating the absent father (or mother) of each child."

Information for DOR customers who need to establish paternity or go to court, Mass. Dept. of Revenue (English and Spanish)
Explains the process of asking for DOR’s help to establish paternity.

Learn about establishing paternity, Mass. Dept. of Revenue.
Explains the process of asking for DOR’s help to establish paternity.

Learn about paternity testing, Mass. Dept. of Revenue.
Information about testing procedure, receiving results, and cost.

Parents who were never married: establishing paternity in Massachusetts, Lynch & Owens, P.C.
Provides a comprehensive explanation of how to establish paternity.

Paternity for unmarried parents, MassLegalHelp.
Information for mothers on deciding to bring a paternity action and the process and forms for doing so.

Paternity in Massachusetts,
“Learn how you can establish paternity and why it's beneficial for your child in Massachusetts.”

Print sources

Disputed paternity proceedings, by Nina M. Vitek. Matthew Bender, loose-leaf.

Family law and practice, 4th ed., (Mass. Practice v. 3), Thomson Reuters 2013 with supplement. Chapter 89 (includes forms on disk).

LexisNexis practice guide: Massachusetts family law, LexisNexis, chap. 10. 

Massachusetts domestic relations, LexisNexis, with supplement, vol. 2, chap. 23 (includes forms).

Paternity and the law of parentage in Massachusetts, 3d ed., MCLE, 2018 (includes forms).

Summary of basic law, 5th ed., (Mass. Practice v. 14B) Thomson Reuters 2014 with supplement. Section 8:145. “Voluntary acknowledgement – recission." 


Last updated: May 22, 2023

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