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In this article, we discuss common questions surrounding paternity law in Iowa. These answers reflect any recent changes made to Iowa paternity law. We cover the following:

  • How is Paternity Established in Iowa?
  • What is a “Paternity Affidavit?”
  • What is a “Paternity Order”?
  • Why should I establish paternity in Iowa?
  • How do I refute paternity if it has been established?
  • Paternity Leave in Iowa
  • Paternity DNA Testing in Iowa

If a child be born to two people who are not married, there are a number of ways to establish paternity under Iowa law. In Iowa, the father and mother have legal and financial obligations to support the child financially, to maintain medical insurance and to pay for various costs associated with raising a child. Establishing paternity is key to enforcing these obligations.

In this article, we discuss common questions surrounding paternity law in Iowa. These answers reflect any recent changes made to Iowa paternity law. We cover the following:

  • How is Paternity Established in Iowa?
  • What is a “Paternity Affidavit?”
  • What is a “Paternity Order”?
  • Why should I establish paternity in Iowa?
  • How do I refute paternity if it has been established?
  • Paternity Leave in Iowa
  • Paternity DNA Testing in Iowa

How is Paternity Established in Iowa?

When married couples have a child, the husband is automatically considered to be the child’s father under Iowa law. As such, the husband will be listed on the birth certificate and will have all paternal rights to the child. It’s worth noting here that if two parties are unwed at conception, but then marry prior to birth, the husband will be established as the father. Should the child be born to two people who are not married, there are a number of ways to establish paternity under Iowa law. The first is to file a Declaration of Paternity with the Iowa State Registrar of Vital Statistics.  

This can be done prior to the birth of the child but cannot be submitted later than the date of the filing of a Petition to Terminate Parental rights. While this doesn’t establish legal paternity, it can be used as evidence in a paternity action later on. You can also file a Paternity Affidavit. These documents are typically given to unwed parents in the hospital but can be completed by the biological parents any time after the child is born. Upon filing, the person named in the affidavit will be legally established as the father. Finally, paternity can be established through a paternity order issued by the Iowa Department of Human Service or a Judge in a circuit court in Iowa.

What is a “Paternity Affidavit?”

The Paternity Affidavit is a legal document establishing paternity that is signed by both the mother and father. For these to be valid, either the child’s mother cannot be married to another man when she got pregnant, during pregnancy, or at the time of birth or the child’s mother or the child’s mother was married to someone else during that time and there was a court order issued by a judge stating the husband was not the father of the child.  

The document covers the name, sex, birth date, and location of birth of the child as well as the father and mother’s information. It also will include a number of check boxes for the mother to check covering the relationship between the mother and the father. Finally, the document will be notarized and signed by both the mother and father affirming the information is true. This document will be submitted to the Iowa Department of Public Health.  

What is a “Paternity Order”?

Paternity Orders are issued when the unwed mother applies for financial support through the State of Iowa. The Child Support Recovery Unit steps in to help unwed single parents receive financial support for their children from the other parent. The organization will order parents to submit to genetic testing free of charge to determine if the child is theirs.

Additionally, a petition to establish paternity might be brought in a district court. A hearing will be held where both alleged parents can present evidence and a judge will determine whether the alleged father is the child’s biological father and legal parent. If this determination is made, an order will be issued and paternity will be established.

Why should I establish paternity in Iowa?

It is beneficial for paternity to be established for all parties involved. In Iowa, the father and mother have legal and financial obligations to support the child financially, to maintain medical insurance and to pay for various costs associated with raising a child. Establishing paternity is key to enforcing these obligations. When a father has established paternity, they can then go to a court and request to have custody and visitation rights which they are entitled too. Finally, it is beneficial for the child to have two parents to help with their development and various expenses/obligations that go with raising a child.  

How do I refute paternity if it has been established?

Either party that signs a paternity affidavit can rescind or cancel the affidavit by filling out the Rescission of Paternity Affidavit form and submitting it to the Iowa Department of Public Health. This form can be found on the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website. The form must be submitted within sixty days of the last signature on the original paternity affidavit or entry of a court order about paternity. Should all the conditions be met, the paternity affidavit will be voided. The child’s name won’t  

Paternity Leave in Iowa

Iowa does not specifically have a law protecting or entitling fathers to paternity leave once their child is born. However, under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, covered employees are protected for up to 12 work weeks of leave over 12 months following the birth of a child. For the FMLA to cover you, your employer must be a private employer with 50 or more employees, a government agency or an elementary or secondary school. The employee must work for the employer, have worked for the employer at least 12 months and 1250 hours and the employee must work in a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Paternity DNA Testing in Iowa

In Iowa, paternity can be established through a DNA test. DNA testing can be requested in a various number of suits including paternity and divorce suits. Typically, the person requesting the testing will be responsible for paying for the test. Another way DNA testing can be done is through the Child Support Recovery Unit either by their request or the alleged father’s request.

What rights does a father have in Iowa without establishing paternity?

In short, the answer is none. A father needs to establish paternity before they can have any rights to see or help raise their child.

Posted 
April 8, 2021
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