Frequently Asked Questions about
State of Alaska
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> Paternity FAQs
Table of Contents
- What are the benefits of establishing paternity?
- How can the child support agency help establish paternity?
- What will the child support agency need to know to establish
- What if the mother and father get along and the father is already
helping to take care of the baby?
- Can the father ask to establish paternity, even if the
- What if the father denies the child is his, or says he's not sure?
- What happens if the mother goes on public assistance?
- Who pays for the genetic tests?
- How is genetic testing done?
- Is the father required to pay child support after paternity is
- What if a mother is afraid of the father and doesnít want any
child support from him?
1. What are the benefits of establishing paternity?
Legally establishing a man as the father of a child can help provide
emotional, social and economic ties between a father and his child, and
can ensure that the child receives the same rights and privileges as all
children. These include inheritance rights, access to the father's medical
and life insurance benefits and to Social Security and veterans' benefits.
The child also has a chance to develop a relationship with the father, and
to develop a sense of identity and connection to the fatherís family.
It also may be important for the childís health for doctors to know
the father's medical history, especially if there is a history of medical
conditions in the fatherís family.
2. How can the child support agency help establish paternity?
Either the mother or the father may complete an application for
services and a paternity affidavit. If the father isnít willing to sign
a voluntary paternity affidavit, the agency may order DNA testing to prove
fatherhood. And if the father lives outside Alaska, the child support
agency can ask the other state to help establish paternity.
A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form is available from the
child support agency and from the Vital Statistics, Alaska Department of
Health and Social Services.
3. What will the child support agency need to know to establish
The caseworker will need as much information as possible about the
alleged father, the pregnancy and the child. Some of these questions may
be personal. Please be assured that we keep the information confidential.
We will also want to know whether the alleged father has ever provided
financial support, or in any other way acknowledged -- through letters or
gifts -- that the child is his. A picture of the alleged father with the
child is helpful, as well as any information from other people who could
confirm your relationship with him.
4. What if the mother and father get along and the father is already
helping to take care of the baby?
Fatherhood should still be established to preserve the legal rights of
the child and the father, and to protect the mother and childís rights
if the father should stop supporting the family.
5. Can the father ask to establish paternity, even if the mother
Yes. Generally, the father has a right to establish his paternity
rights. There are times, as provided in statute, when CSSD may not
6. What if the father denies the child is his, or says he's not sure?
The child support agency or a court can order a paternity test to
determine if thereís a genetic match between the father, mother and
child. These genetic test results can establish legal paternity and can
exclude a man who is not the biological father. Each party in a contested
paternity case must submit to genetic tests.
7. What happens if the mother goes on public assistance?
If paternity has not been established, the law requires the mother to
cooperate with the public assistance and child support agencies to help
establish paternity. The father will be asked to pay child support to the
state for the time the mother and child are on public assistance as
reimbursement for the benefits paid to the family.
8. Who pays for the genetic tests?
If the child support agency orders the tests, the state will pay the
costs for the mother, child and man named as father. If the father is
identified by the tests, he will be asked to reimburse the state for the
costs. If the man is not the father, he will not have to pay for the
If either the mother or father dispute the original test results, he or
she may pay for a second test.
9. How is genetic testing done?
Testing is painless and can be done any time after your child is born.
DNA is collected with a buccal swab, which looks similar to a Q-tip. A
tissue sample is collected from the mouth by swabbing the inside of the
cheek; much like a throat culture. Collecting the samples is done quickly.
Even with the paperwork, the whole process takes approximately 15 minutes.
Once all the samples are collected, results are usually issued within 21
10. Is the father required to pay child support
after paternity is established?
Yes. A father has a legal obligation to support his children after
paternity is established.
11. What if a mother is afraid of the father and doesnít want any
child support from him?
Unless the mother is receiving public assistance benefits, she doesnít
have to ask for or accept child support payments from the father.
Generally, if a mother applies for public assistance, she is required to
help the state establish paternity for the collection of child support.
However, if the mother is afraid of naming the father for fear he could
become physically or mentally abusive or violent, the mother needs to talk
with her public assistance caseworker about the issue. The law allows
mothers to show "good cause" for not naming the father, while
remaining eligible for public assistance benefits.