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How can I establish paternity of my child?

If you are a Wisconsin man who was not married to your child’s mother at the time he or she was born, Wisconsin does not consider you to be your child’s legal father or to have any rights to him or her unless you formally establish paternity. As the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families explains, you can do this in any of the following three ways:

  1. Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment
  2. Court determination
  3. Acknowledgement of a Marital Child

Voluntary acknowledgment is the easiest way to establish paternity. Assuming that both you and your child’s mother are 18 years old or older and you both agree that you are the father, you can both sign the VPA form and file it any time after your child is born. You can obtain one of these forms from any of the following people or places:

  • The hospital where your child is born
  • Your midwife if your child is born at home
  • Your local child support office
  • Your local Register of Deeds Office
  • The Wisconsin Vital Records Office

Court hearing to establish paternity

If you and your child’s mother do not agree that you are the father, you can file a court petition asking a judge to settle this dispute. Be aware that if you do not believe you are the father, the child’s mother can file such a petition asking that you be declared the father. You have the right to attend the court hearing and present your evidence. If you don’t appear, the court could name you as the child’s father without your consent.

Acknowledgment of a marital child

If you and your child’s mother get married after your child is born, you can both sign an AOMC form, which is available at your local child support agency and the Vital Records Office. The form must be signed in front of a notary public and mailed to the Office of Vital Records.

This information should not be taken as legal advice. It can, however, help you understand the process and what to expect.

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