Head’s up — MassLegalHelp is getting a new look!

At the beginning of March, we will be relaunching this website with a brand-new look. You may notice some things moved around, but our main content will stay the same. We hope the improved design will make it easier to find what you are looking for.


What if the father agrees he is the father?

Produced by an AmeriCorps Project of Western Massachusetts Legal Services updated and revised Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed October 2009

The father of my child admits that he is the father. Do I still need to file a paternity case?

A verbal agreement is not enough to make him the legal father.

There are two ways to establish paternity:

1. Both parents sign a "voluntary acknowledgment of parentage" form (a form saying who the father is). If you do that, the birth certificate can say that he is the father.

2. File a paternity case in court. If you can prove that the other party to the case is the father of your child, the judge will sign a judgment saying that he is the father.

If we sign the voluntary acknowledgement form, how do I get custody and child support?

If you and the father of the children have signed an acknowledgment of parentage, file it with the court along with a Complaint for Support-Custody-Visitation. (See Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.)

I signed a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage form, but I don't think he's the father. Can I make him get tested?

If you signed the acknowledgment form on or after March 31, 1998, you must file a case to cancel the acknowledgment. You must file your case within 60 days after you signed the form. If you file the case within 60 days, the court has to order genetic marker testing. If 60 days pass after you sign the form, the acknowledgement is the same as a court judgment. You can challenge it for up to one year from the date you signed it, but you can only challenge it if you signed it

  • because of fraud - someone lied about something, or
  • because of a big mistake about the facts, or
  • because you were forced to sign it.

If you signed the form before March 31, 1998, talk to a lawyer about whether you can get genetic marker testing.

Who to call for help

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
9am - 12pm and 1pm - 4pm