Kentucky Paternity Acknowledgement Program
According to Kentucky law KRS 213.046 (3), hospitals are responsible for giving unmarried parents the opportunity to establish legal paternity while they are in the hospital. To establish paternity at the time of birth, parents must complete the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form (VS-8B). The hospital's role is to ensure that these parents have every opportunity to understand the responsibilities of establishing paternity and to complete the process before they leave the hospital. To fulfill this role, hospital personnel are required to:
- Provide staff to meet with parents over eighteen years of age who are not married to each other
- Inform parents of their option to acknowledge paternity
- Provide the parents with information about paternity establishment (both in writing and orally) to help them understand the purpose and benefits of paternity acknowledgment
- Ensure forms are processed correctly so that the father's name and information can be added to the birth certificate
- Ensure the availability of a Notary Public so that Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form can be completed in the hospital
The Kentucky Paternity Acknowledgment Program, a program of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is responsible for promoting the benefits of paternity establishment to parents as well as providing technical assistance and training the hospitals regarding the in-hospital paternity establishment process. Every state is subject to federal penalties for failing to meet paternity establishment performance requirements established under federal law. Paternity can be established at the time of birth or through administrative and judicial processes later. In order for the State to meet federal requirements regarding statewide paternity establishment, birthing hospitals should ideally strive to establish approximately 60 percent of all unwed births in the hospital.
In 2010, approximately 21,000 children were born to unmarried parents in Kentucky, and only 9,700 left the hospital with a legally established father. Studies show that approximately 70 percent of unmarried parents will acknowledge paternity if they are educated about the process and benefits in the hospital.
Paternity Acknowledgment Questions
Q. We know that he is the father, so why should we establish paternity?
A. Paternity acknowledgment is not a DNA test or a question of who the father is. It is a legal document that makes the father a LEGAL father to the baby and allows the father's name to be listed on the birth certificate.
Q. If we sign the acknowledgment of Paternity, can we still do a DNA test?
A. Yes, however, if there is a question of paternity, a DNA test should be completed prior to signing the paternity acknowledgment form. This is a legally binding document.
Q. I am a mother who is still legally married, but my husband is not the father of my baby. Can we sign the paternity acknowledgment form?
A. Yes, as long as you have been separated from your husband for at least 10 months prior to the birth of your child.
Q. One or both parents are under the age of 18. Can we sign the paternity acknowledgment form?
A. Yes, however due to Kentucky state law, the form cannot be signed in the hospital. You must contact your local health department, child support division or county attorney.
Q. What happens if the father does not sign the Affidavit?
A. At the hospital, both parents may complete and sign the paternity document to establish paternity for a child born to an unwed mother. If both parents do not sign the document, the father's name will not be on the birth certificate, and the child has no legal father at that time. The paternity document must be signed by both biological parents. If either one chooses not to sign, paternity cannot be established by this method. However, the parents may choose to establish paternity at a later time.
Q. What happens if I don't establish paternity?
A. Your child will not have a LEGAL father, and there will be no FATHER listed on the birth certificate. Your child may miss out on the following benefits:
- Knowing his/her father
- Access to the medical history of the father's family
- Inclusion on health insurance through the father's employer
- Potential Social Security benefits, veteran's benefits or inheritance should the father pass away
Q. Will I have to pay child support if I establish paternity?
A. No government, state or county agency is notified if you establish paternity. This is a legal document that only establishes the FATHER as the LEGAL FATHER to the baby.
Q. Will I have to pay the hospital bill if I establish paternity?
A. The hospital billing department is not notified of paternity establishment. Handling to the hospital charges is between the mother and father of the baby to discuss and handle.
Q. If the parents sign the paternity document, does the father have the right to take the child away from the mother?
A. If a child is born to an unwed mother, the mother is the sole custodial parent and legal guardian of the child unless a court order is issued stating otherwise.