Paternity Enhancement Program

About the Program

Overview of Paternity Establishment

If a child is born to an unmarried mother, the child does not have a legal father unless the parents take steps to establish a legal father. The father's name will not appear on the child's birth certificate unless the parents establish him as the legal father. If the mother is married, the husband is the presumed father of the child.

How can the Paternity Enhancement Program/Central Paternity Registry help me?
Why establish paternity?
How do I establish paternity for my child?
Where do I complete a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit for my child?

How can the Paternity Enhancement Program/Central Paternity Registry help me?

If you want to know if establishing paternity is right for you and your child;

If you want to find out more about the process; or

If you have questions about what paternity establishment means,

You can get answers here or by calling us at 1-888-810-OHIO (6446).



'The most important quality in my father is that he makes me feel safe' - Erin, age nine, Kansas City, Missouri

Boys with a father in their life are 37% less likely to abuse drugs.


Why Establish Paternity?

Legally establishing the father protects your child by giving them options and advantages they might otherwise miss. Establishing paternity provides your child with a security only you can give. Below are some of the reasons you may want to establish paternity.

For Your Child's Sense of Identity-
Children find it very important to know who their mother and father are, and to have a relationship with both parents. Children who don't know both parents often miss out on knowing both sides of their extended family, so they lose grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as a parent.

To Help Set-up Custody & Visitation-
Unless a court order is issued, the mother is the sole residential parent and the legal custodian of the child. However, once paternity is established, the father can ask the court for visitation rights and/or to share in custody arrangements. This gives the opportunity for the father and child to see each other regularly and for the father to have custody of the child if something happens to the mother. It can also help take the pressure off of one parent trying to raise a child alone.

To Establish Child Support-
Both parents have the responsibility to financially support their child. If the parents choose to separate and paternity has already been established, it will be easier for the child to keep receiving the support he or she needs.

To Secure Financial Benefits-
Legal paternity allows the child to qualify for important financial benefits from the father. These benefits may include social security, life insurance, veterans' benefits, and inheritance rights if something happens to the father.

To Provide Medical Benefits-
A legal father may be able to add his child to his health insurance policy. Also, it can be very important for a child to know the medical history of both parents.

Because Fathers Are Important In Kids' Lives-
Children themselves tell us what an impact their dads have on their lives. In sidebars throughout this site, you can read what children had to say about their dads, and see how fathers make a positive difference in kid's lives.



'The most important qualities of a father are that he loves and does the best he can for his kids. My dad does that all of the time... well, most of the time. No dad is perfect' - Alicia, age eleven, Wausaw, Wisconsin.

Kids with a father in their life are half as likely to end up in jail.


How do I Establish Paternity for My Child?

In Ohio, paternity can be established in three ways:

  1. Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit: By signing this affidavit, both parents agree that a man is the biological father of a child and choose to make him the legal father of the child. To see if the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit is appropriate for your situation, click here to answer a few questions.

  2. Administrative Order of Paternity: For unmarried parents that have not established paternity through another method and wish to get genetic testing, the Child Support Enforcement Agency can conduct the testing and issue an order of paternity if the man is indeed the biological father of the child. If the mother lives in Ohio, please contact the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) in the mother's county of residence. If the mother lives outside of Ohio, you may contact the CSEA in the father's county of residence. Click here to go to the Office Locator Map and find the appropriate CSEA office.

  3. Court Order of Paternity: Paternity may be established through Juvenile Court and sometimes through Domestic Relations Court (as part of a divorce.)



A father should be not only your dad, but your friend, too.' - Samantha, age ten, Southaven, Mississippi

Girls with a father in their life are 53% less likely to commit suicide.


Where do I Complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit for My Child?

The Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit can be completed at these locations:

  • At the time of birth, unmarried parents are offered the opportunity to complete the Affidavit at the hospital or birth facility.

  • Afterwards, an Affidavit may be completed at your local health department. Click here to find a health department near you.

  • Affidavits may also be completed at a Child Support Enforcement Agency. Click here to locate the Child Support Enforcement Agency in your county.

All of these locations have trained staff available to assist parents in completing an Affidavit. They also have notaries on staff to notarize the parents' signatures. Parents must provide suitable picture identification to the notary.






'A good dad would come to your games... and miss work just for you' - Brook, age twelve, Roswell, Georgia