Alaska Child Support Services Division

Frequently Asked Questions about
Paternity Establishment


Table of Contents

  1. What are the benefits of establishing paternity?
  2. How can the child support agency help establish paternity?
  3. What will the child support agency need to know to establish paternity?
  4. What if the mother and father get along and the father is already helping to take care of the baby?
  5. Can the father ask to establish paternity, even if the mother objects?
  6. What if the father denies the child is his, or says he's not sure?
  7. What happens if the mother goes on public assistance?
  8. Who pays for the genetic tests?
  9. How is genetic testing done?
  10. Is the father required to pay child support after paternity is established?
  11. What if a mother is afraid of the father and doesn’t 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 father’s family.

It also may be important for the child’s health for doctors to know the father's medical history, especially if there is a history of medical conditions in the father’s 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 isn’t 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 paternity?

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 child’s rights if the father should stop supporting the family.


5. Can the father ask to establish paternity, even if the mother objects?

Yes. Generally, the father has a right to establish his paternity rights. There are times, as provided in statute, when CSSD may not establish paternity.


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 there’s 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 tests.

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 days.


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 doesn’t want any child support from him?

Unless the mother is receiving public assistance benefits, she doesn’t 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.