HOW IS LEGAL PATERNITY ESTABLISHED?
If a woman is married when she becomes pregnant or at the time of the child’s birth, her husband is considered, by law, the legal father of the child. If a woman is not married at the time of the child’s conception or birth, paternity needs to be established after the child is born. Parties can either sign a voluntary paternity acknowledgment or participate in genetic testing.
A voluntary paternity acknowledgement form may be used by parents who were not married at the time of the child’s birth. Signing this form makes the man the legal father of the child and places his name on the birth certificate. It also gives the child the right to support and inheritance from his father. All hospitals are required to provide this form in births involving unwed parents. The form can also be obtained at any county agency as well as from FCPC-TCSA.
When the potential father and mother sign a voluntary paternity acknowledgement form it is sent to the Vital Records office in the state in which the child was born and the father’s name is added to the birth certificate. The potential father has sixty days to ask the State to remove his name, making a claim that he was under duress or the form was signed fraudulently. As of January 1, 2007, if a voluntary paternity acknowledgment form is signed, the mother is granted sole legal custody of the child unless a court orders otherwise.
HOW DO I ESTABLISH PATERNITY THROUGH GENETIC TESTING?
- Request Application for Paternity Services from Forest County Potawatomi Tribal Child Support Agency Via:
- Complete application to best of ability. Include documents such as:
- Copies of social security cards
- Birth certificates and marriage certificates
- Driver’s license or Tribal ID’s
- Any family related court orders
- Financial and employment records
- Applicant must provide details to support and swear to the assertion that he or she had sexual intercourse with the other party during the conceptive period.
- The application must be signed by the applicant and witnessed or signed in the presence of a Notary. Failure to do so may result in the case remaining inactive until a proper signature is obtained.
- Return application to FCPC-TCSA via mail, fax, web or personally.
FCPC-TCSA is not allowed under federal regulation to perform genetic tests without a court order for a party over the age of 18 years old. Should an adult wish to establish adult paternity they are encouraged to contact DDC at 1-800-363-1855 to schedule a genetic testing appointment.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY APPLICATION IS RETURNED TO FCPC-TCSA?
- The Case Specialist will review the application and conduct a phone or personal interview should additional information be needed to complete the application process.
- If no birth certificate for the child is provided with the application, the Case Specialist will search the State of WI Birth Query to confirm there is no father listed.
- If there is no father listed on the birth certificate, the Case Specialist will open a case in MTS, assign a case number and schedule a hearing using the same procedures under child support establishment. This includes discussions with the parties to see if a Stipulation for genetic testing can be obtained. If not, a Summons and Petition for Paternity will be filed with Tribal Court.
- As with new child support actions, the Summons and Petition will be personally served upon the non-custodial parent and sent to all parties via certified mail. The responding party must be given 20 days to respond to the claims in the Petition.
- Either before or at the initial hearing the potential father may admit or deny that he is the father. If the responding party is the mother, she can deny paternity stating she did not have sexual intercourse with the potential father during the conceptive period. Either party or FCPC-TCSA can request genetic testing to confirm the paternity of the child.
- At the initial Tribal Court hearing, testimony will be heard from each party regarding the paternity of the child. The Judge may make a finding of paternity without genetic testing if he/she believes both parties agree that they are the biological parents of the child. Tribal Court may also order genetic testing or find that there is not enough evidence to confirm paternity.
- FCPC-TCSA is certified as a DNA specimen collector. If genetic testing is ordered by stipulation as agreed to by both parties, or by Tribal Court order, FCPC-TCSA will schedule appointments to test all parties and the child. If a party is incarcerated or lives more than 75 miles away, the genetic testing company will arrange for that party to be tested at another location.
- Once the results of genetic testing are received, the Case Specialist will file the test results along with a Notice of Final Paternity Hearing with Tribal Court. At the final paternity hearing, the judge will review the findings of the paternity tests. If the results indicate a probability of 99.0% or higher the potential father is deemed to be the father of the child. Tribal Court will also make a finding of custody, placement, visitation, tax credits, vital record and genetic testing fee recovery and child support if requested by either party.
- Following the final paternity hearing, FCPC-TCSA will file a proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Adjudication of Paternity based on the findings. Once signed by the judge, the tribal clerk will mail a copy to both parties.
- If the potential father is adjudicated to be the father of the child, FCPC-TCSA will file a Vital Record Amendment Form in the State in which the child was born requesting that the father’s name be added to the birth certificate. It generally takes 30 days to have a birth record amended. If one or both parents want to obtain the new birth certificate, they must do so at the Register of Deed’s office in the county in which the child was born.
- An adjudication of paternity may not have an effect on enrollment within the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe. Only the Enrollment Department, Committee and General Counsel can approve enrollment within the Tribe.