What Does Presumed or Putative Father Mean? 52

About: Paternity

Two Ways to Claim Legal Fatherhood

Presumed Fatherhood

When speaking of paternity of a child, the “presumed” father is the man that is automatically assumed, under the law, to be the father. This definition varies a bit from state to state. Some states do not allow the presumption to be challenged while others do.

In 21 states (Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington), a man can be the presumed father in one or more of the following cases:

  • He and the child’s mother are married (or were married) and the child was born during the marriage (or within 300 days after the marriage ended).
  • He and the mother attempted to marry prior to the child’s birth and the marriage was (or could be) declared invalid and the child was born during the invalid marriage or 300 days after it was terminated.
  • He has acknowledged his paternity in writing.
  • He is listed as the father on the birth certificate with his consent.
  • He has resided with the child while the child was a minor and publicly claimed the child as his biological offspring.
  • He is obligated to pay child support, whether by court order or voluntary agreement.

Putative Fatherhood

A “putative father” is a term used in many states to describe a man who is either alleged to be the father or claims to be the biological father but who is not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. A putative father has not yet been legally established as the child’s father by a court. You will see the phrase “putative father” referenced over and over in paternity court documents.

Approximately 23 states have established registries to allow fathers to claim a putative status – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming. The registries in these states are intended to allow alleged fathers to be contacted in the event that the child is put up for adoption or if there is any attempt to terminate parental rights. Men can generally provide their information to these confidential registries even before the child is born if he believes that he is the father of a woman’s unborn child.

An additional 12 states and the District of Columbia allow fathers to claim putative status by filing forms with social service departments and vital statistics registries. These states include Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

In the following states, fathers may also claim putative status by filing an affidavit of paternity with the court: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas Virginia and Washington.


  • Y. O.

    I really needed to read this, thanks!

  • dustin

    Hi I am still confused about what a putative father actually means after reading this. I was reading a family members court papers that I am helping for a custody hearing and it has d.p. (My family member) listed as father and john doe listed as putative father. We are in the state of ohio. Any timely insight as to what exactly this means would be greatly appreciated.

  • confused in ohio

    I live in Ohio. My daughter’s biological father’s name is not on her birth certificate. I married him after she was born. I now want to divorce him after 4 years of being separated from him. My child remembers him very well and is terrified of him because he was violent with us. The courts here favor shared parenting. Are the courts likely to order visitation? Can I file for divorce legally “with no children”?

  • I am worried about mediation, my ex was abusive and we divorced because of it, this was in 08, now we are having to return to mediation, court ordered, to make decisions about schooling, I was told that since the abuse happened over a year ago it is no longer an issue, but I am still afraid.

  • aman

    my girlfriend and i got together when she was one month pregnant from another man. i love her and we would like thie child to know me as his only father. her ex has not tried to contact her or asked about the child since the first weeks of her pregnancy (she is now 8 months). now out of now where he is making threats to get custody/ visitaion of the child. we want nothing to do with him. if my name is put on the birth certificate im am putative/presumed father. correct? (in new mexico) can her ex come and request a paternity test if me and the mother do not consent? please help!

    • Daniel Davis

      The babies father has the right to claim his child. I’m going through the same thing in reverse. My ex girlfriend has a boyfriend, they are claiming the baby is his but they started dating/living together 1 month after we broke up. She was already 6/7 weeks pregnant. I filed for paternity that same month. I am the biological father and have the right to love, support and parent our child as she and he do. We loved each other enough to create this life and I acknowledge my responsibilities as a father and a man. Her boyfriend and her are upset, thinking only of themselves at this time. Not about the cares or concerns of the soon to be born child. One day the child will find out you are not the father, the child will be emotionally drawn to find the other parent. Many conflicts will arise because of the decisions you make today. You can have peace and harmony coparenting. It’s not always easy, however if you truly care about your child you’ll all do what is best for the child’s life, peace, joy and happiness… Not your own!

      • the law

        My friend has the same situation .she was married but they separated when she had affair with diff man and got her pregnant the problem is when this happen she is already filling for divorce just hasn’t formally sign yet .later on the her bf divided to broke up with her as he seing the situation like has nothing to do with him so my friend left him but notify him as soon as the baby was born but this piece of shiits ex bf was about to get married ( claiming to be saint ) to diff woman who has two of her own kids from man .was not even happy that the my friend give birth to his own biological son ! He did not do anything on any kind of help for my friend during the pregnancy and now has asking his right ? Bs ! My friend put her ex husband lastname on the bc .which her ex bf got so mad for her doing so .which in the law ( a child that’s born in a married woman will assumed be her husband baby .(presumption paternity .) The questions. Is does this ego maniac bio has a right to the baby when he abandoned her while she is pregnant ? And now asking to see the baby ? Il say hell no! But we live in fl.were I know this ass can get court order for paternity test .which I’m hoping the court will not grant his request.

        I am not against to a man who wanna be father to his biological child but if he just wanna be on the bc and claimed on government support ,I think that was wrong ,government should watch this kind of inappropriate action .
        That’s not love for the child .because if it is he woulda support her pregnancy and being there not to abandoned the whole situation just because she was married at the paper .not only that now that he’s claiming to be in better life while my friend is in emotional situation ,he’s asking and demanding to be in a child’s life ? And not offering any help ?,

        To any man out there in the same situation ,you got pregnant your gf while she still married ,be a man ! Be there and support her ,if you claiming the baby later .dnt abandoned the situation like its just a piece of shiit that you can just kick and pick up later .whatever happened to a relationship is never done with the child being born with it tthat’s the way I see it so its better to work on it while together for the sake of everybody than later because what you do or dnt do nw will affect you later.this kind of problem doesn’t just go away I dnt care what the law says .even if the law adjust to putative father .that doesn’t change the fact that you abandoned the mother of your unborn child .how can you love the child and not to care while she /he’s in the womb on his mother ? Specialy circumstance when you know about the pregnancy.
        Work on it ,if you tried your best and the law doesn’t go on your favor ,if you have good relationship with the mother of your baby even thou she went back to her husband ,she may go ahead and make you visits ,see and be there for your child .
        When it comes to this kind of situation not even the law can change that unless she prevent it .

        I’m just a friend that see her being in this mess .I feel her pain and suffering in every bit of day .and yet she still wants the baby to know his biological father .

  • Jane

    I have a question about the timeline necessary to register as a Putative Father in the state of South Carolina. My daughter’s biological father is not on the birth certificate, has made no contact, nor admits to paternity. He contacted a lawyer during my pregnancy and was advised to wait for paternity until after my daughter was born. In that time, he got another woman pregnant and married her. His new wife…i think knows about me. I have kept everything on the down low because i fear for my safety with biological father…don’t wanna end up missing. Anyways, it is my fear that he might eventually try to establish paternity and visitation later in my daughter’s development. Again, i fear him and safety and well being of my daughter. She will be 2 next month…i have had not contact with him since telling him i was pregnant at 6 weeks. Also he contacted the lawyer who tried to get me to consent to a paternity test 2 days after my daughter was born. I did not consent to any tests. I have not heard for any lawyers or bio dad.
    My question is …would he ever have a chance at establish paternity?? thank you.

  • christopher

    i got this women preganant she told me about the child but was on the middle of working out her previous relastionship. she asked me not to say anything and she would handle it all. i agreed as long as she was ok with thing and the man she was with would be a good father i wouldnt say anything. well the situation has changed and if thats not bad enough its been 5 heres. is there anything is can do? i just want my son back where i know he is safe. we are currently in tx

  • Anthony

    My ex-wife and I were divorced in March of 1997, while she was pregnant. She remarried the same month. She had the baby in May 1997. She had said, that I was not the father of her child and in Florida I had to sign a document stating that I was not the father, so that we could get the divorce. I saw the child for the second time in August 2009. I have been trying to ask my ex-wife to do a paturnity test, but she will not respond. Do I have any rights in this case or what can I do to see my child, please help. I have tried to speak to her husband and he refuses to even entertain the probability or possibility.

  • alesha ]

    my boyfriend was previously married and had a daughter thats biologically his and is the presumed father of two that arent and child support enforcement says the only way to establish paternity is through hiring a private attorney and taking it to court. His ex doesnt let him see any of them and yet he pays child support on all 3 of them. Is that really the only way to get a paternity test ordered? cant we just pay for the test or something as that would be cheaper than hiring an attorney to handle it?

  • pat

    my question is my girlfriend is pregnant and we live in Kansas and i told her we should weigh out all decisions from keeping child to adoptioin.she decided on adoption without me and i want to keep the child and she told me i have 2 choices 1.support her decisioin or 2. if i dont support it she will refuse to tell me where she gives birth and change docs on me…and still wants me to pay for her rent and food and doc visits and scripts…any thoughts of what to do????

  • Dixie

    The father listed on my childs birth certificate is not the biological father and he knew this at the time of dating but signed it after we brock up how can i get him off of her birth certificate.
    Thanks, Dixie

    • jenn

      .I have the same problem

    • heather

      I have this same issue.. can anyone help me? I need advice! The man that signed my sons bc is in prison for a long time..my sons real father won’t help me at all..he just says he’s not on bc so he’s not helpn me..so how can I get him to take dna and on childsupport? Threw the courts??

      • Terry Wimes

        Go to the health department and take it back home and complete fill out the application for amendment to florida (OR STATE YOU LOCATED)birth record which you need to complete DG form 438 and DH429 and get your part notiazrd. Call the clegry at the jail or prison he located if still in lock up ask him will he speak with the guy and ask him to sign the paper and mail it back to you but you need to send also a self address return back to you. Go to clerk of court for family service or childsupport office and tell them you like to take him to court for childsupport although he may not be the father and when they hit him with the big bill he may ask for a DNA or say I am not the father so you can ask the judge for the test be completed…OR offer him money to take the DNA but do it in front of a attorney….if you going to pay him to do the DNA.

    • jjmma

      Did you ever get an answer?

  • Txmommy03

    I am in a similar situation as Dixie. My ex husband was going to adopt my 2 older children, and we just put him on my youngest daughters birth cert since the biological father never did. Well, we divorced, and he never adopted my oldest kids, but has been said to be the legal father of my youngest. The biological father wants his rights, and I want him to have his rights. WTF did I get myself into! And is there any way to get out of this mess? I know there is a new law for dads, but thats only if you have been alleged to being the father….can the bio father get his rights through this law?

  • jacqui

    Ive been married to my husband for 5years now.He and I had been seperated for about 7months (but didnt file the separation in court) and I had become pregnant by another man during the separation.The other man knew about the pregnancy and was around for the first 2months and then got with someone else and never contacted me in any way to even ask about the unborn child I was carrying until my final couple of weeks before I delivered my son.He was at the hospital during my delivery and my son’s first 2 days of life and was not able to sign my son’s birth certificate due to me still being married.Currently my ex is trying to take me to court for full custody because he doesnt want the child around my husband.Neither my husband nor my ex signed my son’s birth certificate so the father information on it is blank.Both men claim paternity of my son.My husband wants to raise him with me which im completely fine with.My husband already calls my son his son and tells everyone that its his child.I would like to keep custody of my son,but am not opposed to letting my ex see my son if he is the biological father.I suppose my question is,if my husband can add his name to my son’s birth certificate,is there a possibility that my ex can take me to court and take my son away from me?We live in tennessee and my husband is already legally seen as my son’s presumed father and my son has my husband’s last name.

    • mb

      im in the same situation as you were in.. did you find any information out? if so please tell me so i will know know what i am looking at,,,thanks

  • Tosha

    ive been married to my husband for 13 yrs. and recently were served with court papers to establish paternity for a child his ex girl friend had. he dated the girl for a month, she had admitted to being with several people while they dated. she was also married at the time. shortly after finding out she was pregnant, the girl left and went back to her husband. she told him (my husband) she was getting an abortion because she didnt know whose kid it was. he has never seen or spoken to her sense. i guess what im wondering is what she can do to us if it is established that the child is his? the kid is 15 yrs old now and we are just now finding out about him and we have 4 children of our own, that are definately ours. the child doesnt have my husbands last name or the womens last name, maiden or married. she is remarried and this is also not the childs last name, so we arent even sure whose last name the child has. we live in illinois. already taken the paternity test on our end, but still waitin to hear something back. any insight would be greatly apprieciated.

    • xie

      Wait till u guys get the result of the DNA .and let ur husband deal with it .u definitely have some issue of ur husband infidelity that’s why you calling his ex a lot of pre assumption name that you don’t even know if its true or not .that doesnt mean that your husband say so ,youl believe it ? Whatever makes you better and feel good at night I gues .
      If your husband is responsible enough he woulda wait and find out the truth if his ex get abortion or not before he moves on to you .but the fact that he doesn’t care about the baby from the get go what does it tell you ? Well some women are disparate to get married in any c
      ost .blind folded in a lot of way .

      No harsh feeling but gudluck .

  • Joyce

    I have a dilemma ! and I need some help , ok here is the situation I had a child while I was married in 2007, although the hubby was living outside of the residence at the time of conception, I put the real fathers name on BC as well we signed an acknowledgement of paternity , as well took a paternity test which came back 99.9 % father of real dad. Now the hubby moved his ass – broke in refused to leave house in 2/2007 and has lived there since, I had lived with kevin baby daddy till 2010 with said child , now husband claiming to be childs father when he knows he is not and he knows whos name is on BC . I have never told hubby this was his child !~ he claims her as his . now in sept 2012 he pulled a shot gun on me and was tried – convicted – and will be doing time for menacing now, also he is out of the house ! and i have filed for a divorce custody – and this paternity action as the judge claims i didnt give him an opportunity to speak during a support order for the child in question this past fall plus there continuing to give him visits with her as her father when she sees her real dad . this is confusing to a 5 yr old my question is what will the outcome be or possibly be with the paternity – custody ?

  • Help

    My sons father is not on the bc but a dna test has been done, he is trying to take my baby, me and my fiancé are really serious and he has been raising my son, if we get married and we put my fiancé on the bc and change my sons last name can his real father take him away? I’m 18 now, was 17 when I had him, the father is still 17 and won’t be 18 till jan 27 2014…

  • shelly

    For 32 years my mom told me my biological dad died in a car wreck before I was born. She told me he loved n wanted me and gave me there high school prom pictures. The man she married when I was 2 I’ve called dad and he was wonderful. Well on November 12 2012 my mom called to tell me my real dad was alive and had been looking for me for 32 years and all of his family said the same. I fell I have the right to have him on my birth certificate,how do you go about that 32 years later? I already filled for the paper we all sign n have noteurised is that all I need to do or is there more please help me.

    • Amand Guillot

      i have the same situation and am not finding any answers at all and was wondering if you could tell me where i can get the acknowledgement form for us to get noterized. if you feel like chatting about this my name is amanda and my phone number is 931-257-1554 feel free to call or text . Thanx

  • txmom4

    I have a problem. I have a now 15-month-old special needs daughter. Her biological father walked out on me when i was 2 months pregnant. Since then he’s gotten married, left his wife and stepdaughter, moved in with another woman and signed her newborn daughter’s birth certificate. He has 3 confirmed biological children with 3 other women. He isn’t involved with any of the kid’s lives. He has never seen,provided for or wants anything to do with my daughter. My ex husband and I have reconciled while I was pregnant and he is a model father to her. I am suing her biological father for child support. My ex husband is worried that once paternity is established, he will have to adopt my daughter. I told him that as far as I know establishing paternity won’t affect his legal standing with her. That by signing her birth certificate he is her legal father even though he’s not her biological father. I don’t know for sure though if I am right or not.

    • Sammi

      Did you ever get the answer to this question?

    • kim

      Did u ever find out any info on this..I’m in a simular situation but I live in georgia..any info would be helpful…my email is kimmie2850@yahoo.com

    • Terry Wimes

      You correct but you don’t have to change the daughter last name the only thing change is the father name on the birth record….but the real father can give up his right if that what you like to do..

  • meg

    My sons father is not on his birthcerfiticit and filled for a dna test if i was to leave state to.visit my boyfriend of 8 months now can i get in trouble since he is techially not on my son bc yet very woried i dont want to get introuble please help

  • pat

    Most people don’t know that there is a non invasive prenatal paternity test, that is done off blood and is accurate after 7 weeks.

  • Willy

    So sry to barge on a converstasion. But i am in dyer need of an answer! And i cant find it ANYWHERE! There is a young girl i have known since she was a child, i am 53, it is not a relationshìp… sexual or otherwise. Her mother was a dear friend of mine. This young girl had a Son. When he was 3 yrs old, i made the decision to legally adopt the child for him to receive medical care while she got back on her feet. Long story short, i was played the fool… we no longer have contact, but my name is on his BC and is still considered to be legally adopted by me. I need to have this undone in the case that she has malicious intentions… please help!!

    • TRYit

      Depends on the state that you are in. MS and a few others say if you sign the BC you are the legal father no matter if you have proof that you are not.

  • Willy

    And what do you even call that??… surely its not “Un-Adopting”!?

  • jjdart

    my boyfriend fathered a child with his ex gf 2 years ago. They broke up when she was about two months pregnant. She moved in with another guy and he was there when the child was born and the child lived with him up until about a month ago. my bf has only seen his daughter twice in two years because his ex won’t bring her around to see him. She only knows the other guy as dad and that man wanted to legally adopt her but my bf wanted a dna test first. there is no father listed on your bc and the ex recently took him to court for child support. should the other man have to pay child support instead of my bf because the other man is who she knows as dad and he gets visitation with her every weekend? we live in texas

  • jjdart

    the other guy also has acknowledged that he is her father no matter what

  • kyle

    I recently found out I might be a father of a boy that is almost 6years old and I didn’t know about him at all the mother just told me about him and it was a one night stand and now she wants me to be there for him and get a DNA test done. she told me this after her and the guy she was with broke up. my question is do I have to pay child support even if I don’t know the child and if he is mine? And she waited this long to tell me. im not on the birh certificate either. I need answers and help!

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  • Zach

    My ex is about 13 weeks pregnant with my supposed twins. I’m wondering if I can go to the doctor appointments even if she says no? Btw I live in Wisconsin. I went to the first two but she said no on this last one just to hold it above my head and hurt me. Also, how soon after birth can I get a paternity test?

    • Terry Wimes

      Go and put yourself on child support and they will make her do the test or cut any service she may get through the government if she using any of them.

  • Elizabeth Rosas

    I am out here to spread this good news to the entire world on how I got my ex husband back.I was going crazy when my husband left me and my two kids for another woman last month, But when i met a friend that introduced me to drehiaghe the great messenger to the oracle of dr ehiaghe healing home,I narrated my problem to dr ehiaghe about how my ex Husband left me and my two kids and also how i needed to get a job in a very big company.He only said to me that i have come to the right place were i will be getting my heart desire without any side effect.He told me what i need to do,After it was been done,24 hours later,My Ex Husband called me on the phone and was saying sorry for living me and the kids before now and one week after my Husband called me to be pleading for forgiveness,I was called for interview in a very big company here in USA were i needed to work as the managing director..I am so happy and overwhelmed that i have to tell this to the entire world to contact dr ehiaghe on his personal email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct on: ehiaghespellhome@gmail.com and your problem will be solve.

  • nana

    asking for my son who is needing guidance. He and the woman who he has been living with for the past 3 years and have a 2 year old little girl has told him to leave. He doesn’t want to leave without his daughter but the problem is she is married to another man who she has been separated from for the past 4 years. What is his chances of getting custody of his daughter? He has been the primary care giver while the mother has either been at work or out partying. He now has a full time job and has been paying all bills for over a year. By the way this case is in Mississippi.

  • Rin

    My grandson lives in Indiana and his child was born and lives in Kentucky. We did the DNA test to confirm she is his child. How does he go about getting his name on birth certificate and establish paternity, the mother won’t do it. Can he file in Indiana or does he have to file in Kentucky? Thank you.

  • Tbox

    I live in Miami Fl. I have been Married to my husband for 15 yrs, but with him for 29yrs. My husband cheated with a married woman and father a child with her. She new it was my husband child, but told her husband it was his child, her husband signed the birth certificate and gave the child his last name, not knowing the child was not his. now 16ys later the husband & I found out about this child. My question is can she put my husband on child support? My husband and I do give her money every time she calls for it.

    • TRYit

      if you court hasn’t order you to pay. don’t give anymore money that you was already giving. read what i post above (TRYit). why i would say not to add pay more money is becasue, if you do go to court and the judge do order you to pay. most time they will order you to pay the max price that you were giving her on a regular.

  • TRYit

    About 13 years ago I had sex with this girl one time and she came up preganant. About a year ago she tried to put me on child support. We did a DNA test and the child came back to be mine. However once all the paper work came in it was another guy on the bc. they close the case and said i have no right to the child and i won’t have to pay anything because the state of MS say whoever signs the bc is the legal father. unless i push for it to be changed. its nothing that can be done. the girl has now drop off the planet.

  • sharon

    I left my boys dad whom i wasnt married to for a guy i worked with… i ended up marrying him… i had sexwith my kids dad a couple times actually around april 28th.. my husband abandoned me after found out i was pregnant in august. I struggled withmoney almost starved to death.. lost my apartment almost lost my job.. really had a hardtime.. i movedback in with my mom andnowim currently living back with my boys dad and things are great… he wants to be named as thw father on the birth certificate and he wants the baby to have his last name… my husband however is now wanting a dna test and refusing to divorce me. my baby isdueany day and i dobt want my child abandoned like i was when i was pregnant.. let mego ahead and say my husband was accused of physically abusing my youngest son and is not allowed to be alone with my two children.

  • t

    My ex husband and I are divorced now he’s asking for a DNA test. He knows he can’t have kids. I was still legally married at the time my child was born. My child has a father who is in his life and helps provide for him. Can my ex husband take my child from me or get visitation even though he’s not the father?

  • bomman30

    Can anyone help me ? I live in the state of Virginia and I recently found out that i have a 17 year son that I knew nothing about.the birth mother told me her parents made her place the child up for adoption and now after 17 years she finally had the change of heart to tell me . Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do ? All i have is his first name and what high school he goes to . Can a birth mom really commit fraud like that and get away with it ?

  • Debora Lewter

    My son is on the BC of a little boy born 2 years ago, the mother told my son that he might not be his so my son went to do a blood test 2 months ago n was told if u r on the BC as father then the state will not do the test, we r in Washington DC, is this true, what can we do

  • Miss M..

    My son and his girlfriend had a baby 19 months ago my son sign the birth certificate and has been active in the child’s life since birth. The mother and my sonhouse split up.but my son.has ccontinued to be in the child’s life we have her every other week. The mother got a new bofriend and they dated for.a little he found her talking to other guys and left her he has now went to the court and filed papers on my grandchild mother saying he is thego father, and wants custody. If he is the father what rnights if any does my son have in state of maryland .