Paternity in New Hampshire is established by way of an affidavit of the father attesting that he is the father, or by a judicial determination. Judicial actions commenced by the mother are called actions for paternity. Fathers desiring to have their children legally determined to be their offspring may bring an action for legitimation. Judicial determinations begin with genetic testing which the court may order.

Children born during marriage are presumed to be the offspring of the married couple, but evidence may be introduced in a divorce or other paternity or legitimation proceeding to establish that someone else is the father.

Once paternity is legally established by any of these means, the father has parenting rights and responsibilities for the child and the duty to support the child financially. This means that once paternity is legally established, child support orders can be legally binding. The child has full rights to the support of the father and to inherit from him.

A father who wishes to have parental rights to a child born out of wedlock who has never been established as the father must begin his legal proceedings with an action for legitimation. The court will not grant parenting rights, until paternity is established.

Mothers needing support for a child born outside of wedlock must establish paternity before the father can be ordered to pay support. The state’s Division of Health and Human Services Office of Child Support is available to commence such paternity action against the identified father and establish a child support order. Once the paternity is established, the father has rights to seek parenting rights and responsibilities for the child.

“Mothers or fathers may bring actions to establish who the father of a child is. “

Mothers applying for Financial Aid to Needy Families (FANF) welfare benefits will be required by DHHS to identify who the father of the child is, as a condition of eligibility for benefits. If paternity is established, DHHS will seek a support order from the father to offset the public assistance paid to the mother.

If you have a child whose fatherhood is not legally established or any questions or concerns regarding the paternity status of your child, contact us. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of relying on DHHS to bring your paternity and support case versus us doing it for you.