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Establishing paternity and collecting child support in Kentucky

In Kentucky, in cases where a child is born out of wedlock, the mother's name, by nature of being the person who gives birth to the child, is automatically placed on the child's birth certificate holding her financially responsible for providing for her child.The father's name, however, is not automatically added to their child's birth certificate.

Legally speaking, the father cannot be held financially liable for the child's care until paternity is established. Even a father who claims a child at birth and takes financial responsibility, is required to legally establish his paternity either by agreement or court order in order to formalize his relationship to the child and his support of it.

In cases in which a child is born to unmarried parents, the father and mother must both sign an "Affidavit of Paternity". Once signed and filed with the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics, only then can the father's name added to the child's birth certificate.

Alternatively, in the event an alleged father of a child is unwilling to be voluntarily be added to the birth certificate, a blood test may be ordered by the court to confirm paternity. In this case, once confirmed, the court may enter an order that the father's name not only be added to the child's birth certificate, but that he pay child support as well.

With that order, the mother or legal guardian would be eligible to receive child support from the father of the child to include reimbursement for the costs associated with delivering the child in the hospital. She would also be eligible to receive contributions from the child's father up through his or her 18th birthday.

For fathers looking to avoid being added to their child's birth certificate and thus being responsible for child support obligations, the judge can order the father to be assessed child support fees in absentia. In this case, a father can be retroactively ordered to pay child support dating back to when the lawsuit was originally filed or back to the date of birth of the child.

Each client's case is different. Establishing paternity and securing adequate child support payments necessary to properly take care of your child can vary depending on the specifics of your individual case. An family law attorney can help you make sense of your case.

Source: Legal Aid Network of Kentucky, "More child support questions and answers," accessed Dec. 22, 2016

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