Paternity and Support Establishment
Establishment of PaternityPaternity establishment refers to the legal determination of being named as a child's legal father. Paternity can be established in the following ways:
- Voluntary acknowledgment: Voluntary acknowledgement refers to completion of a form known as an "Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit". You can complete this at the hospital when your child is born, before both parents leave the hospital. It can also be completed at the Office of Child Support Service (OCSS), the OCSS offices located in the Neighborhood Family Service Centers (NFSC) or your local Vital Statistics Registrar. Things to consider:
- Both parties must provide photo identification.
- The child’s birth certificate is required.
- The document must be signed before a notary.
- The child’s mother cannot be married.
- Administrative Order: For an Administrative Order to be established, a DNA test result must show at least a 99% probability of fatherhood. The DNA genetic testing process refers to a mouth swab that is performed on all parties. The results of the DNA test will be mailed to both parties after all parties are tested. If legal paternity is established through genetic testing, the OCSS will schedule a support hearing to establish a support order for the child(ren). Parties can be tested at our main office at 1640 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114, or (by appointment only) at our Neighborhood Family Services Centers. Things to consider:
- Parties must provide photo identification.
- Same day testing at main office can occur when arrival is before 3PM
- All parties must be served a notice to appear for testing to receive results and an Administrative Order of paternity.
- If either party fails to submit to the test or fails to submit the child for genetic testing, the OCSS may request the court to find the party in contempt and determine the issue of paternity.
- The paternity establishment process is available at any time before the child attains 23 years of age.
- Paternity can be determined even if the other parent lives in another state or even in a foreign country.
- Judicial Order: A Judicial Order of paternity is where the Court makes the determination of who a child's parents are.
Establishment of a Support Order
Once legal paternity has been established, if a person does not already receive child support, the child's legal custodian can contact the OCSS for assistance in obtaining an order for the payment of child support and health care for the child(ren).
Same day child support Administrative Hearings can also be heard at the main OCSS office if both the mother and father appear together on the same day before 3 pm.
To determine the amount of support a parent is required to pay, the OCSS or the court, (if applicable based on a referral from the OCSS), will use the "Ohio Child Support Guidelines" as a guide. Both parents must provide verification of their income for the past six months or provide their most recent income tax returns.
The Process for Applying
How to Apply for Paternity and/or Support:
- Walk in to main office or Neighborhood Family Service Center.
- Bring your photo identification, social security cards, and birth certificates for the child(ren).
- Bring any information regarding the other party.
- Bring custody or guardianship papers, marriage certificate, and/or divorce decree (if applicable).
- If you are under the age of 18 your parent or legal guardian must accompany you.
Certain public assistance programs that you may apply for, or may be receiving, require your cooperation with OCSS. To help coordinate this, OCSS will schedule appointments on your behalf when cooperation is necessary.
If you are unable to keep your scheduled appointment:
Please call our OCSS Contact Center at 216-443-5100, prior to the appointment date, to reschedule your appointment. If you fail to appear, your cash assistance case may be sanctioned, which may result in a delay of your cash benefits.
Change of Address or Employment:
Please call the OCSS Contact Center at 216-443-5100 to provide any new information on either the other party or yourself. Please have your case number or social security number available.
If You Received a Case Closure Letter:
If you have received a Case Closure Letter and have current information on the other party, please contact the Support Officer named on the letter. Please have your case number or social security number ready.