Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment

If both the mother and the man are 18 or older and are sure that the man is the father, the easiest way to establish paternity is with the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form. The form may be filed at any time after the baby is born. To ensure the child's rights, it is best to file the form soon after the child is born.

If either parent wants genetic testing, the parents should not sign the form until they receive the test results. Parents may ask their local child support agency for genetic tests before signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form. The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form cannot be used if the child was conceived or born when the mother was married to a man who is not the biological father.

What Does it Mean to Sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form?

Before signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form, make sure you understand the form's meaning.

  • The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form is a legal document and legally establishes paternity
  • This means the court may order support for the baby without having a court hearing to prove who the father is
  • Child support will continue until the baby becomes an adult
  • If you have questions or are unsure if signing this form is in your best interests, do not sign this form until you speak to one of the following:
    • The person who gave you this form
    • Your local child support agency
    • A counselor, a caseworker, or an attorney
    • Call the Paternity Acknowledgment Answer Line at 1-888-643-7284

What the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form Does Not Do

  • Completing the form does not create a child support order. However, it does allow the court to order child support if necessary.
  • The form does not give the father legal custody or placement. Under Wisconsin law, the unmarried mother has sole legal custody until a court orders otherwise. It does give the father the right to ask the court for custody and physical placement.

Where to Get the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form

  • At the hospital when your baby is born
    The father and the mother may sign a Voluntary Paternity acknowledgment form after their baby is born. All hospitals in Wisconsin have this form and will offer it to new parents. The father and mother may sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form and have it notarized at the hospital when their baby is born.
  • From your midwife when your baby is born
    Many midwives will also have this form available.
  • From your local child support agency
    Child support agencies can help parents with this form.
  • Other places
    The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form is also available at local register of deeds offices and the state Vital Records Office in Madison.

If You Change Your Mind

  • If you change your mind, you can withdraw the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form if a court has not yet ruled on a family matter involving the father, mother, and child.
  • Either the mother or the father may mail a completed Request to Withdraw Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form to the state Office of Vital Records.
  • The form must be filed within 60 days of filing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form but before a court rules on a family matter that involves the mother, father, and child.
  • The form is available through the birth hospital, your local child support agency, or the Office of Vital Records.
  • If you change your mind about using the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form after 60 days, you need to ask the court to change the child's paternity. You will need to prove that there was fraud, duress, or a serious mistake that caused you to sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form.

More Information on Establishing Legal Fatherhood


Updated June 21, 2012

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