Paternity Establishment

Genetic testing is recommended if there are any doubts about the paternity of a child. The current cost of a genetic test conducted through the Wake County Child Support Services office (administered by LabCorp) is $25 per person tested

Determining Legal Fatherhood

Father holding his infant child.

The legally responsible father must be determined before a child support order can be established. There are cases when the child’s legal father is not at issue, and the Child Support office can proceed with establishing a child support order.   

Establishing the legal responsibility of a father for his child ensures certain rights for the child, such as a greater sense of identity and possible knowledge of the father’s family medical history and to Social Security, insurance and military benefits. 


How is Paternity Established?

Child Born of the Marriage

If a mother is married at the time of conception or birth of her child, by NC law, her husband is presumed to be the “legal” father of the child. Another man cannot be determined as the legally responsible parent until a judge determines the mother’s husband is not the child’s legal father.

NC Affidavit of Parentage

Unmarried parents can voluntarily declare without going to court by signing the NC Affidavits of Parentage (AOP). The AOP is most often completed at birthing hospitals, CSS offices, Vital Records, Clerks of Court, Health Departments or DSS offices. 

Court Order

A civil action to establish paternity of a child born to unmarried parents can be initiated up to the child’s 18th birthday. Evidence is presented, paternity testing may be ordered and the court makes a determination. If paternity has already been established by a prior order of the court or in another state, no further actions are required. 

Genetic Testing

Who is required for testing?

The natural mother, alleged father and the child are all usually required to participate in paternity testing. 

How is the test conducted?

Genetic testing is highly accurate in determining the paternity of a child. A swab is taken from inside the cheek of the mother, alleged father and child, then sent to a laboratory for testing. 

What is the cost of paternity testing?

The current cost of a genetic test conducted through the Wake County Child Support office (administered by LabCorp) is $25 per person tested.