Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

Declaration of Possible Fatherhood Information

Paternal Interest in Wisconsin


Declaration - the process of declaring possible fatherhood of a child before a child is adopted.

Inquiry - the process of making a court inquiry to the Wisconsin Paternal Interest Registry. It is to see if a man has registered as the possible father of a child before the child is adopted.


Safe Haven (Relinquishment of an Infant)

When giving up a newborn through the Safe Haven program, the name and address of the parent and child is not required. The Paternity Registry is dependent upon the names of the individuals in order to match the mother and child to the possible father. With the absence of names, neither Safe Haven mothers nor their babies will be in the registry.


Paternity Testing

Paternity Testing, if required, is completed in the county in which you live. Contact the local child support office directly.

When to File a Declaration of Paternal Interest

A declaration must be filed

  • before the birth of the child
  • within 14 days after the birth of the child
  • if the putative father receives notice under Wisconsin Statute 48.42(1g)(b) that the mother of a child under the age of one is seeking to voluntarily terminate her parental rights and has identified him as the father

The possible father has 21 days after the date the notice was mailed to file a declaration. There is no fee for filing a declaration of paternal interest.

  • When a declaration form is received, a copy will be sent to the mother of the child at her last known address.
  • The child's mother may respond in writing but is not required to do so.
  • The possible father will receive a dated copy of the declaration mailed to their current address.

The Department of Children and Families’ Bureau of Child Support or county child support agencies may not access information within the Paternal Interest Registry. If a declaration was filed before July 1, 2006, it could be filed at any time before the father’s parental rights were terminated.

Results of Filing with the Paternal Interest Registry

When a person properly files a declaration with the Paternal Interest Registry within the requirements and deadlines described above, the possible father will receive notice if the child is involved in a Termination of Parental Rights* court action.

Filing a declaration of paternal interest does not establish parental rights to a child. The possible father will need to take further action to establish and protect his rights and responsibilities as a father or to give up his rights as a father.

How to File a Declaration with the Paternal Interest Registry

If a person believes he is the father of a child, he may register with the Wisconsin Paternal Interest Registry

  • Fill out a Declaration of Paternal Interest. The form requires:
    1. The name and address of the possible father
    2. The name and last-known address of the child’s mother
    3. The month and year of the birth or expected birth of the child.
  • The form must be signed and verified under oath before a notary public.
  • If the possible father is less than 18 years of age, his parent or legal guardian must also sign the form Wisconsin Paternal Interest Registry.
  • The form must be filled out in its entirety - Incomplete forms will not be processed.
  • Mail to:

    DCF/DSP – Room E200
    P.O. Box 8916
    Madison WI 53708-8916
    Phone Number: (608) 422-7002

  • Paternity Testing, if required, is completed in the county you reside in. Contact the county office directly.

Withdrawing a Declaration

A person who has filed a declaration of paternal interest may withdraw it at any time. To cancel a declaration,

  1. Submit the Declaration of Paternal Interest Revocation form in writing to the address above stating that he is not the father of the child, or that another person has been legally declared to be the father of the child.
  2. The statement must be signed and verified under oath before a notary public.
    • If the person is under 18 years of age, his parent or legal guardian must also sign the form.

Results of Not Filing a Declaration with the Paternal Interest Registry

If a possible father does not file a declaration with the Paternal Interest Registry:

Who Can Access Information in the Paternal Interest Registry

The Paternal Interest Registry is a confidential record.  The information may only be used in the children’s proceeding and may only be disclosed by order of the court.

Penalties

Any person who intentionally obtains, uses, or discloses confidential information from the Paternal Interest Registry may be fined not more than $1000 or imprisoned for not more than 90 days or both.

Additional Resources