Determining Paternity for Children Born Out of Wedlock


Publication Date: June 6, 1995


Dear Colleague:

This will inform you of a recent Action Transmittal, ACF-AT-95-05 dated May 20, 1995, issued by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, to provide State agencies with new administrative procedures for use in determining paternity for children born out of wedlock for purposes of meeting the AFDC eligibility requirements.  Specifically, in order to be eligible for AFDC, the child must be: (1) deprived of parental support and (2) living with a specified relative of proper degree.

Current policy does not distinguish between administratively verifying the paternal relationship for AFDC eligibility purposes and the requirements of State law for legally establishing paternity and for child support enforcement purposes.  The attached Action Transmittal is intended to streamline and improve the procedures for both the administrative and legal determination of a paternal relationship.  Therefore, the Office of Family Assistance has updated the Federal policy in question and has rescinded SSA-AT-81-10 dated May 10, 1981.

Under new Federal policy, to ensure that a legal relationship which protects the interest of the children is established quickly and in accordance with State law, all AFDC applicants who are putative paternal relatives will be referred to the IV-D agency at the time of application.  Referrals will not be delayed until assistance is granted.  Further, IV-A staff should attempt to obtain a witnessed voluntary acknowledgement of paternity signed by the father (notarized if possible).  Such acknowledgements, taken in accordance with State law and procedures which ensure that due process safeguards are afforded, will be recognized as primary verifications of relationship for title IV-A purposes.  Obtaining voluntary acknowledgements at the IV-A office will also streamline the paternity establishment process.                                                        

In the absence of a paternal acknowledgement, court documents or birth certificates clearly establishing the paternal relationship to the dependent child would also be acceptable as primary sources of verification.  If such verification is not available, other forms of documentary evidence could be used as ancillary sources of verification to establish paternal relationships. These forms of documentation are listed in the Action Transmittal and reflect primary and secondary evidence which is acceptable. However, ancillary sources of documentation, which are
insufficient to establish legal paternity under State law, would only be acceptable if accompanied by a witnessed statement signed by the applicant/recipient under penalty of perjury and/or fraud prosecution indicating how the alleged caretaker relative is related to the child.

If you have additional questions, or need additional information, please contact your Administration for Children and Families Regional Administrator.


Anne F. Donovan
Acting Deputy Director
Office of Child Support Enforcement

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