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Paternity: The Basics

· Paternity

Establishing Paternity

Paternity can be presumed:

  • If both parents are married
  • Parents were married and child was born within 300 days of the ending of the marriage due to death, divorce, etc.
  • Parents married after birth of the child
  • For the first two years of the child’s life, the father lived with the child and openly held the child as his own
  • If father agreed and his name is on the birth certificate
  • The man lives in the home with the child and holds the child out as his own while the child is a minor

This presumption of paternity can only be defeated by a court decision.

Paternity must be established if the child’s parents are not married.

There are two ways to establish paternity: both parents sign an Affidavit Establishing Paternity, or the man gets a paternity test. If both parents sign the Affidavit, then the father’s name will be on the birth certificate.

A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity can be signed before birth of the child.

You can get an Affidavit at the hospital or you can download one off the Wyoming Child Support website.

A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity can be signed before birth of the child.

Denial of Paternity

The man may sign a denial of paternity, then put the denial in a record. The denial is not valid until another man signs an acknowledgement of paternity.

If both the denial of paternity and an acknowledgement of paternity signed by another man are filed with the state office of vital records, that has the same effect as a court decision. If you do that, you do NOT need a court order.


The presumed father is then DISCHARGED from any duties or responsibilities to the child.

Denial of paternity is NOT valid if presumed father has acknowledged paternity in the past or if a court has decided that he is the father.

If you are the Acknowledged Father, meaning you have acknowledged paternity, you can get rid of that Acknowledgement if you take a DNA test and prove you are not the father.


You cannot bring a paternity action after child is 5 years old.

What if you already signed an Acknowledgement?

If you already signed an acknowledgement, you can get it taken back if you prove the following: fraud, duress, or mistake, and less than two years after the Acknowledgement was signed.

Visitation with the Child

You can only get legally enforceable visitation if you are established as the child’s father.

What to do if you get a court order telling you to submit to genetic testing

If you do not comply and submit to genetic testing, you may be held in contempt. The penalties for contempt go from fines to jail time.

It is BEST to take the test.

Conflicts

If the child was born during the marriage of the parents, the husband is presumed to be the father.

If the Mother’s boyfriend lived in household and held child out as his own, that man is acknowledged as the father.

When there are those conflicts, the stronger policy considerations will decide the paternity of the child. GDK vs. State, Dept. of Family Services, 92 P3d 834 (2004).

If paternity is presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated in court, the only way to fight it is to get a genetic test to show you are not the father

Best Interests of the Child

The court will normally not consider he best interests of the child if there is only one potential father at issue. However, if there is more than one potential father, then the court may consider the best interests of the child as one factor. LP v. LF, 2014 WY 152, 338 P.3d 908 (2014).

Can you get a Judgment for Paternity Set Aside?

If you can prove fraud or excusable neglect, you MAY be able to get the judgment set aside. Rule 60(b) State, Dept. of Family Services v. PAJ, 934 P.2d 1257 (1997)

In this case, the mother lied to PAJ and told him he was the father. The man also took a DNA test that excluded him as the father. For those reasons, the court set aside the judgment and PAJ was released from any duties to the child.

If you have any questions about your specific case, you can call the Legal Aid Hotline at 877-432-9955.

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