Family Support Division
PATERNITY ISSUES FAQ
Q: What is paternity and what does establishing paternity mean?
A: Paternity is fatherhood. Establishing paternity simply means to create a "legal" father.
Q: Why is establishing paternity important?
A: Both parents and the child have the right to a parent-child relationship; both parents and the child deserve an opportunity to develop, enjoy and grow in this relationship. Both parents have the right to know and the responsibility to support their own son or daughter.
IDENTITY: It is important to know who we are. Your child has the right to the sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents.
MONEY: The law requires both parents to support their child. This is true even with an unplanned pregnancy. A child supported by one parent often does not have enough money for his/her needs.
BENEFITS: Your child has the right to other benefits from both parents. These benefits may include social security, insurance benefits, veteran's and other types of benefits, and inheritance rights.
MEDICAL: Your child may need a complete medical history from the families of both parents. This could include inherited health problems.
Q: What are the benefits to the father of establishing paternity?
A: The father has the opportunity to be a father to the child. He can experience the companionship and rewards that come with spending time with his child. The father has the right to establish and maintain a relationship with his child.
Q: How is paternity established?
A: Paternity can be established in any one of the following circumstances:
If the mother is married when the baby is born, her husband is considered by law to be the father unless there is a court order to the contrary.
If the mother has been divorced or widowed for less than ten (10) months, her husband at the time of conception is considered by law to be the father.
If the mother is married at the time of conception or birth, but her husband is not the biological father of the child, a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity is not allowed unless the legally presumed father consents in writing or a Court has determined that the husband is not the father.
If the mother is not married at the time of conception or birth, paternity can be established in two ways:
- Both parents can sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity that is filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics; or
- A judge can declare a man the legal father of the child after a hearing or by default.
Q: How can the father voluntarily acknowledge paternity?
A: To do this, both parents must sign a paternity affidavit. The paternity affidavit must be notarized and filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. Before signing the form, the father must provide picture identification and his social security number. The father can sign a paternity affidavit even if he is married to someone else.
Q: What if the alleged father refuses to acknowledge paternity?
A: If the alleged father refuses to acknowledge paternity, the mother or the Nevada State Welfare Division (if the child is receiving public assistance) may bring a paternity suit to have the matter resolved. The alleged father is entitled to a hearing where the mother, with the assistance of the District Attorney's Office, must show sufficient proof that he is the father.
Q: What if I am not sure who the father of my child is?
A: Telephone your local District Attorney's Office, Family Support Division. They will help you in identifying and locating (if necessary) the alleged father. You do not have to be on public assistance to seek help from the Child Support Enforcement Program.
Q: When is paternity genetic testing necessary?
A: Genetic testing is necessary when the alleged father questions or denies paternity, when the mother is uncertain of which of two or more persons is the father, to exclude a person to whom the mother was married when the child was born, or to exclude a person named as the father on the child's birth certificate and the mother is claiming that someone else is the father.
Q: How is paternity testing done?
A: If genetic testing is ordered by a District Court, you will be scheduled for genetic testing in the area where you live. A buckle swab is rubbed against the inside of the cheek for the alleged father, the mother and the child. A laboratory provides the testing. The tests compare many different and complex details of the child's genetic makeup with similar details in the mother's and alleged father's genetic makeup.
Q: What does paternity genetic testing show?
A: The tests can show a man is not the father of the child. The tests can also show that a man is probably the father. Genetic testing is very accurate.
Q: Who pays for the genetic testing?
A: A Court decides who pays for the genetic testing. A Court usually orders the alleged father to pay the costs if he is found to be the father.
Q: What if the father or mother is not 18?
A: The age of the father or mother is not relevant under Nevada paternity establishment laws.
Q: How long after a child is born can paternity be established?
A: Nevada law permits paternity action to be started anytime before the child reaches the age of 21.
Q: Can the name of the father be put on the child's birth certificate?
A: That depends on the situation. A married woman's husband will be recorded as the father on the child's birth certificate. When a woman has been divorced or widowed for less than ten (10) months, her husband at the time of conception is named as the father on the child's birth certificate. When the mother is not married at the time of conception or birth, the name of the father can appear on the child's birth certificate if a paternity affidavit has been completed and notarized first. When the Court establishes paternity, the name of the father as determined by the Court will be entered on the birth certificate.
NOTE: It is illegal to provide false information on a child's birth certificate.
Q: If we decide to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, what other steps should we take?
A: The paternity affidavit must be filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. If you cannot mutually agree on matters of child support, visitation and custody, you may get a court order. A court order for support does not automatically include custody and visitation.
Q: Where do I get help in establishing a court order?
A: Telephone your local District Attorney's Office, Family Support Division. You do not have to be on public assistance to seek help from the Child Support Enforcement Program. Private attorneys also can file custody and visitation actions.
Q: How is child support determined?
A: Child support is set by a formula found in the Nevada Revised Statutes. This formula considers the noncustodial parent's gross income and the number of children. Costs of the baby's birth and other medical costs may be included in the child support order.
Q: Does the father have the right to see or visit the child?
A: Visitation can be a mutual arrangement between the parents or established by a District Court order. The father has the right to seek court ordered custody and visitation.
Q: Can paternity be established if the father lives outside the State of Nevada?
A: Yes. Sometimes this can be done through Nevada courts. If not, the Child Support Enforcement Program will help to locate the alleged father or initiate interstate procedures.
Q: Why is it best to establish paternity as soon as possible after the child's birth?
A: Your child has the right to expect regular and continued support from both parents. When you wait, you take the chance that things may change and it may become more difficult to establish paternity. Your child may grow up without the advantages and benefits that come from having both parents share in parental responsibilities. Give your child the best possible chance in life by getting paternity established now.
Q: Is there a fee for establishing paternity?
A: No. Effective January 1, 2000 there is no longer a fee to establish paternity.