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Establishing Legal Fatherhood (Parentage)

Parentage and Establishing Fatherhood

When a child is born to unmarried parents, the child does not have the same rights or access to benefits as a child born to married parents.

Additionally, the father does not automatically have the legal rights of a parent and will not be named on the birth certificate.

To establish a legal relationship between a child born to unmarried parents, and the father, there are two options;

  • Parentage Opportunity Program (POP) - both parents, can sign a Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) form in the hospital, welfare office, county clerk, or child support office to establish paternity. This is a free and easy way to establish paternity without having to go to court.
  • Court Order of Parentage - a court order to legally establish (fatherhood).

If paternity of the child(ren) is at issue, the court may order free genetic (DNA) testing. Testing is available at all Child Support locations with an appointment.


If you have questions about establishing fatherhood or genetic testing, please contact a child support professional by email from within Customer Connect or call (866) 901-3212.