Answering a Request to Establish Parentage in Court

If you have been served with a summons and a petition/complaint by your child’s other parent or by the local child support agency (which may show on your paperwork as the Department of Child Support Services), you are the respondent in a court case to establish parentage.

Once you are served, you have several options:

1. You can do nothing — which means that whatever the other parent (the petitioner) is asking for in the petition or the complaint will probably be granted, including paternity.

  • If you are the father, this means you are waiving (giving up) your chance to participate in the case and ask for paternity tests and a trial on paternity.

2. You can do nothing and have a written, notarized agreement with the petitioner that says that you both agree to be the parents of the child in the case and may also say that you both agree to child support and custody/visitation orders.

  • If you are the father, this means you are waiving (giving up) your rights to paternity tests and a trial on paternity.

3. You file a response with the court and agree that you and the other parent in the case are both the legal parents of the child and agree to establish parentage.

  • If you are the father, this means you are waiving (giving up) your rights to paternity tests and a trial on paternity.

4. You file a response with the court that says you (if you are the possible father) disagree or are not sure that you are the father of the child. Or, if you are the mother, your response says you are not sure or disagree that the other person is your child’s father.

How to answer a request to establish parentage


Responding to a complaint from the local child support agency or DCSS

If you have been served with a Summons and Complaint Regarding Parental Obligations or a Supplemental Complaint (Form FL-600 serves either purpose) by the local child support agency (LCSA), or by the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), you have 30 days from the date you were served to respond.

To respond, follow these steps:

1. Fill out your court forms
Fill out these forms (and remember that you are the respondent):

  • Answer to Complaint or Supplemental Complaint Regarding Parental Obligations (Form FL-610).
  • If you are not sure you are the child’s parent and want to ask for a paternity test to make sure, you must check the box that says you are NOT the parent.
  • If you agree you are the parent of the child in the case, check the “Yes” box. By agreeing, you are waiving (giving up) your right to a trial on the issue of paternity and your right to a paternity test.

2. Fill out 1 of these court forms too if the complaint asks for child support:

Read Which Financial Form — FL-155 or FL-150? (Form DV-570) to find out if you can use the simpler Form FL-155.

3. Have your forms reviewed
 Ask your court’s family law facilitator to review your paperwork. He or she can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

4. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
 One copy will be for you; another copy will be for the LCSA. The original is for the court.

5. Serve your papers on the LCSA/DCSS
Serve the local child support agency (LCSA) or Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) with a copy of your papers. You can have them served by mail or in person.

Service is very important so you must do it correctly. And remember, a third person (NOT you) must do it. Make sure that your server (the person sending the papers for you) mails a copy and not the original because the original is for the court.

Read the Information Sheet for Service of Process (Form FL-611) for more information on serving your Answer. Click for more information about “service."

6. Have the person who served your Answer fill out the Proof of Service
Have your server fill out the Proof of Service portion of the original Answer (Form FL-610), on the second page. Make sure your server fills out the right section (for personal service if he or she delivered the papers in person, or mail service if he or she mailed your papers). The server has to print and sign his or her name in the Proof of Service section.  Once your server fills out the Proof of Service portion, he or she must return the original Answer to you.

7. File your forms with the court clerk within 30 days of being served with the Complaint.
Turn in your original Answer (with the Proof of Service portion filled out), your copy, and any other forms to the court clerk.  The clerk will keep the original and return the copy to you, stamped “Filed.” You may have to pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

Responding to a petition filed by the other parent

If you have been served with a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship by the other parent to establish you as the father or, if you are the mother, to establish the petitioner as the father, you have 30 days from the date you were served to respond.

To respond, follow these steps:

1. Fill out your court forms
Fill out these forms (and remember that you are the respondent):

If you agree that you are the father (or, if you are the mother, that the petitioner is the child’s father), also fill out:

  • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105/GC-120 | video instructions ).
  • If you want the court to make orders about custody and visitation, you can also fill out the Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment (Form FL-311). It is an optional form (you do not have to use it), but you may find it helpful in making sure you do not leave anything out of your request. It contains a lot of detail about schedules for visits, holidays, and other details that can help you as you try to do what is best for your children.

2. Fill out 1 of these court forms too if the petitioner asked for, or you want, a child support order:

Read Which Financial Form — FL-155 or FL-150? (Form DV-570) to find out if you can use the simpler Form FL-155.

3. Have your forms reviewed
 Ask your court’s family law facilitator to review your paperwork. He or she can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

4. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
 One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your child’s other parent. The original is for the court.

5. File your forms with the court clerk within 30 days of being served with the Petition.
 Turn in your forms to the court clerk. He or she will keep the original and return the copies to you, stamped “Filed.” One copy is for you and the other is for the petitioner (the other parent). You will have to pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

6. Serve your papers on the other parent
Serve a copy of the Response to Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (Form FL-220 | video instructions Video Icon) and any other papers you attached, on the other parent. You can have someone serve it by mail or in person, but you can NOT serve it yourself.

Find out more about “service of process”. You can have this form served on the other parent before the court clerk stamps it — just make sure you do not serve the original.

7. File your Proof of Service
Have the server (person who served your papers) fill out a proof of service form. He or she should fill out a Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if he or she served the other parent in person. Or have the server fill out a Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if he or she served the other parent by mail.

Then, file the Proof of Service form with the clerk. (If you had the other parent served with an unstamped copy of the Response to Petition to Establish Parental Relationship, you can file the original of the Response together with the Proof of Service.)

The steps that follow depend on what your response is and whether you and the other parent can reach an agreement about paternity, custody, visitation, and child support. Review the different scenarios under Finish Your Parentage Case since they apply to you as well as the petitioner.

IMPORTANT:  If you are the father, and have reached an agreement with the mother about paternity and other issues related to your children, make sure you read and understand the Advisement and Waiver of Rights Re: Establishment of Parental Relationship (Form FL-235).You will have to sign this form to show the court that you:

  • Agree that you are the parent of the child, and
  • Understand the consequences of being the legal parent.
  • Understand that you also are giving up certain rights, like the right to a trial, the right to a paternity test, and the right to have a lawyer for the issue of paternity.

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