Paternity

How to determine paternity of a child born out of wedlock

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Start Declaration of care and responsibility for paternity

When a child is born, the identity of the father has to be confirmed.

If you are not married to each other and wish to take care of and have responsibility for the child together, you should complete and sign a care and responsibility for paternity declaration. You will then get joint parental responsibility for your child.

You can complete the declaration either before, or within the first 28 days after the birth of the child. If the child is more than 28 days old, you can no longer use this option and the child’s mother will receive a letter from the Agency for Family Law via Digital Post with information on how to register paternity. 

Start Declaration of care and responsibility for paternity

Both parents can become co-signatories of the care and responsibility declaration that has already been completed by the other parent.You should co-sign within 28 days of the child’s birth. If you do not co-sign the case will not be accepted by the authorities.

It’s important to know who the child’s father is as paternity to a child gives both father and child a number of rights and responsibilities.

Once paternity has been established it means that:

  • the father has a responsibility to care for the child
  • father and child have the right to inherit from each other
  • the father can have access to his child
  • the father can share parental responsibility
  • the child can have his or her father’s surname
  • the child can have the same nationality as the child if the conditions are met.

Once paternity has been established, it cannot normally be changed.

If you are married to each other, the husband will be registered as the child’s father when the birth is registered.

If you are not married to each other and wish to be jointly responsible for the child, you must register paternity (and joint parental responsibility) digitally by completing the care and responsibility declaration. Paternity will thus be established, and you will have joint parental responsibility.

If you are unmarried and do not complete and send a care and responsibility declaration of paternity and joint parental responsibility, the Agency for Family Law will begin a paternity case.

If you are not able to make the application yourself via the internet, you can get help at your local council offices or at the library.

If the man the mother has said is the father of her child disputes the claim, the Agency of Family Law can decide that genetic evidence must be produced, usually via a mouth swab.

If the mother does not state the name of a potential father, she will need to attend an interview and get advice from the Agency for Family Law. If she withholds this information, the case will be referred to the courts.

If a man believes he is the father to a child, in certain circumstances, he may initiate a paternity case to have his paternity recognised even if he is not married to the mother.

Read more under the heading 'Initiating a paternity case' (the first 6 months after birth).

If the paternity case is administered by the Agency for Family Law, the mother must state who is or could be the father of the child.

As the mother, you can provide your information for the paternity case on this form.

The form can also be used in cases where the mother has received treatment with IVF. Prior to the treatment, the mother must complete a declaration stating the use of IVF. 

Start Acknowledgement of paternity

If you have a child with a woman you are not married to you can have paternity to the child recognised by completing and sending in the “Acknowledgement of Paternity” form. In the case of twins, one form should be completed for each child.

Before registering paternity, you can choose to have a genetic test to establish your paternity. 

Recognition of paternity implies joint parental responsibility in the following situations:

  • The parents have or have had a joint address within the first 10 months
  • The parents were married within the 10 months before the child’s birth (in other words, they were divorced at the time of the child’s birth), or
  • The parents were separated at the time of the child’s birth.

In other circumstances, recognition of paternity does not include joint parental responsibility. You and the mother will be able to agree joint parental responsibility. 

A paternity case can, in some instances, be re-examined later than six months from the birth of the child. 

If paternity has already been registered or recognised in a court decision, the case can still be re-examined if the mother, child (or guardian) and the man currently accepted as the father agree that it should be re-examined. The Agency for Family Law will then decide whether the case can be re-examined.

Re-examination can only take place if there is a possibility that a specific man or woman could be the child’s father co-mother.

Even if paternity has already been registered or determined by a court, the case can be re-opened within 3 years after the birth of the child. However, this requires information on other circumstances that may affect the outcome.

In connection with case administration, the Agency for Family Law may consider various circumstances such as the length of time that has passed since the child’s birth, how much contact there has been between father and child, etc. It will also have bearing on the case if it can be expected that the child may have another father or co-mother if the case is re-opened.

If the child is older than 3 years of age at the point of application, the paternity case will only be re-examined if there are specific reasons why the case has not been sent on previously. In this instance, the Agency for Family Law will take into consideration whether the circumstances justify the re-opening of the case.

In addition, the Agency for Family Law may consider various circumstances such as the length of time that has passed since the child’s birth, how much contact there has been between father and child, etc. It will also have bearing on the case if it can be expected that the child may have another father or co-mother if the case is re-opened. Finally, the consequences of re-opening the case must not disadvantage the child in any way.

There is a particularly restrictive practice for re-opening a paternity case when a child is older than 3 years of age.

If you believe there are good grounds for re-examining a paternity case, please use this form.

A man who has had a sexual relationship with the mother in the period in which she became pregnant has, as a rule, the right to find out whether he is the child’s father.

You can register a paternity case up to six months after the birth of the child.

Last updated: 12 December 2020