How Unmarried Parents Establish Paternity

By Laura Fishman

The amount of unmarried couples having children is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of every four children are now born to cohabitating, unmarried parents – a record high. Without marriage, there’s a greater need to establish paternity. In Oregon, there are several ways for unmarried parents to establish paternity by law, including the approaches from the Oregon State Bar listed below:

  • If a child is born to unwed parents but the parents later marry, they can sign a notarized “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form to be filed with the state.
  • If the unmarried mother and father agree to paternity, both parents can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” at the hospital or birthing center when the child is born, or both can sign a notarized “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” after the child is born. The father’s name is then added to the birth certificate. Oregon honors a voluntary acknowledgment made in another state.
  • When there is no agreement on paternity either the mother, the father or the state of Oregon can establish paternity through court proceedings.

Genetic, or DNA, testing is most common form of paternity testing. Courts have authority to order a potential father of a child to undergo genetic testing to determine whether he is or is not the father of a child. Courts can then enter a judgment reflecting the findings of a paternity test. In some circumstances, a court can also hear documentary and testimonial evidence when making a paternity determination.