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How to Establish Paternity in Kentucky?

PATERNITY ESTABLISHMENT

Under the paternity laws of Kentucky, if the couple is married, they will be established as the parents of the children. Unmarried couples do not have this advantage. They will have to take extra steps to secure the paternity of the child.

This process is called ‘Establishing Paternity.’ This means that the bio father of the child will be established as the legal father as well. Until then he will not be considered the legal parent of the baby. Mentioned below are processes involved for ‘How to establish Paternity in Kentucky?’

How can I establish a paternity in Kentucky?

You can get the paternity established in either of the two ways:

Opting for the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP)

The easiest way to settle paternity is to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form (VAP). This method is governed by the Kentucky Paternity Acknowledgement Program (KYPAP)

The form is provided by the hospital staff, where they will provide you other informational materials. They will also be assisting in solving your queries if you have any. However, do not expect them to answer questions that are legal in nature. 

Both parents are required to read the VAP form and understand it before signing. The forms will be signed in presence of a notary public. Someone who is a registered witness in the State of Kentucky. 

The father’s name will be added to the birth certificate and it will be sent to the local Health Department, which will further be sent to the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics.

The form is signed after the child’s birth at the hospital, but one can sign it outside the hospital too. The forms will be provided at the local registrar’s office. You can ask the registrar can answer questions, notarize the paperwork, and send the data to Vital Statistics. 

Approaching the court for establishing paternity in Kentucky

Another way to establish paternity is going through the court process. Paternity can be filed and presented to the court. This can be the mother, the child, the alleged father, or by a Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services provided government lawyer. (This is done at the request of the mother if they need financial help).

The matter will then be addressed by the district court of the county where the parents live in. The judge will decide the case. As there will not be any jury trial. If either of the parents requests Genetic/ DNA testing, the court will order it. The mother, alleged father, and the child will have to submit a DNA sample. 

Health and Family Services can also issue an order for a Genetic/DNA test. In this case, no one party will be charged for the cost of testing. 

Following this, the court will debate and decide if the alleged father is the child’s legal father or not. If the testing is done, it will also decide if the party is the child’s biological father. 

If the answer to the test comes out as ‘Yes’, the court will give out its final order on the paternity suit. This would mean that the paternity has been established and the father’s name will be put on the child’s birth certificate. 

The judge will also decide about other financial arrangements between the father and the mother. This includes child support and medical care. As well as decide on residency as in where the child will be living, custody, and visitation rights. 

Parents can ask for DNA/Genetic testing to ensure that the child and the father are related. If the parents are not confirmed about the child’s paternity, approach the local child support office. It should be located in the mother’s county. There, they can request a DNA test between the child and its parents. 

Note: Do not sign the VAP form if you have doubts about the paternity. 

Because when you sign the VAP, you are agreeing that you are the biological father of the child. It means you have taken responsibility for the child as well. These include child support, medical insurance, etc.

In the VAP, the father also acknowledges that they are not granted custody or visitation automatically. Simply because they have signed the VAP. But after signing the form, they can approach the court and request visitation rights and/ or custody. 

Is the State of Kentucky more preferential towards the mothers?

Mother with newborn

Child custody is the most sensitive topic during a separation or a divorce case. While these cases are disputable, these can get overwhelming after establishing the paternity, custody, child support, and visitation are decided.

Typically, the decision for child custody can be challenging for most couples. It is often believed that the fathers do not receive a fair chance when it comes to the custody of the child (ren). 

Kentucky, however, favors both equally. The state gives a fair opportunity to both the father and the mother. In fact, it is the first state to give them a chance.

As per the WFPL, the bill provides the parents receive joint custody by default. Previously, the court used to grant custody to one parent. It would exclude the other parent from the child-bearing responsibilities. The parent that was excluded used to be the father.

Presently, both mother and father are treated equally under the law. It has been recognized by the court that a child needs a maternal as well as a paternal figure in his/her life. While the court has to debate the custody with different factors at hand. They select choices that are in the interest of the child.