Paternity Petitions


Establishing "Paternity"

How and when can paternity be established?

An action to establish paternity is initiated by filing a Petition or Complaint to Establish Paternity. Such a Petition may be initiated during pregnancy or after the child is born, but must be filed prior to the child's 18th birthday.


Who may file a Complaint to Establish Paternity?

A Petition to Establish Paternity may be filed by the male claiming to be the father, the child's mother, or the Attorney General's Office. A male who has been legally designated as a child's father but later wishes to dispute his paternity may also file a legal action.

What is the process for establishing paternity?

First, a Petition for Paternity must be filed with the Superior Court. This can be filed by the person wishing to establish his paternity, by the child's mother, or by the Child Support Division of the Attorney General's Office. The AG's office is mandated by law to file such Complaints for free while pursuing child support on behalf of the child. The Complaint, along with a Summons to appear in court, is then served on the Defendant. The Defendant can either admit or deny his paternity. If he admits paternity, the judge will issue a Judgment Establishing Paternity. Child support will then be assessed as a result of the finding.

If the Defendant denies paternity, the Court will order the parties and the minor to undergo genetic testing. If the test indicates that the Defendant is the father and he does not challenge the findings of the test, the Defendant must pay for the genetic testing cost. If he continues to challenge the results of the genetic test, he may request another genetic test, although he will have to pay it. If the mother denies the paternity of the alleged father and he is found to be the father, the mother must reimburse the Government for the genetic test. Again, once paternity is established, child support will be determined.



This explanation sheet is provided for general information only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. You should discuss the specifics of your situation with a reputable attorney prior to taking any legal action. Neither this site nor anyone associated with this site shall be held liable for the use of the information contained in this document or for any decisions made based on the information provided herein.