Establishing Paternity

By establishing paternity, you give your child a legal father.  This is important to the father, mother and child.  Both the father and the mother should share in the emotional, financial and legal responsibilities in caring for their child.  Parents working together with the child’s best interest in mind, can positively impact the child’s well-being, sense of security and outlook for the future.  The Department of Human Services and your local child support office are committed to working with both parents in establishing paternity.  

If the mother is married when the child is born or the child is born within three hundred (300) days of the entry of a final decree of divorce,  the husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father.   If the mother is not married during this time period, the biological father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAoP) to establish paternity at the time of the child’s birth.  These forms are available at the hospital, local Health Department and your local child support office.  Click here to find the office which serves the county in which you live.  

If either parent has doubts about who the father is, he/she should  not sign the VAoP.   The child support office can schedule DNA testing to determine whether or not the individual is the father.   After positive DNA testing results are returned to the local child support office from the certified DNA lab, paternity will be established through court order.

It is extremely important that both parties attend court hearings that are set to Establish Paternity and Set Support.


Additional Information

Tennessee Paternity Acknowledgment Program (Videos)

English Version 

Spanish Version

Department of Human Services – Informational Brochures

Establishing Paternity

Paternity Guide for Dads

Paternity Guide for Moms

Special note:   If you print the paternity brochures on ”both sides of the paper”, also select “flip on short edge”.


Contact Us

If you have additional questions regarding the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAoP) process you may call 1-800-457-2165 (toll free) to speak with a Child Support staff member.

If you have additional questions regarding Establishment of Paternity and DNA testing, you may contact your local child support office.  Click here to find the office which serves the county in which you live.