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Paternity investigation and confirmation of paternity

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The Paternity Act regulates the forming of a child's paternal relationship. According to the Paternity Act, paternity is either stated on the basis of presumption of paternity, or is separately confirmed. Presumption of paternity is based on marriage: if the child's mother was married to a man when the child was born, it is always presumed that the husband is also the father. In this case, both parents also act as the child's guardians.

However, if the child is born outside of marriage, paternity must be separately confirmed either through acknowledgment or a court decision. As such, paternity must be confirmed even if the parents live together when the child is born. If the parents get married after the child is born, paternity must still be separately confirmed.

When paternity is confirmed, a legally valid relationship is formed between the father and the child. The child will become a direct heir to the father, and the father's surname can be given to the child. After paternity has been confirmed, the child has the right to receive maintenance support from the father, too, and the right to meet with and communicate with the father if the parents are not living together.

The child's mother will be the guardian of a child born outside of marriage, but after paternity has been confirmed, the father can also become a guardian either by the parents' or by a court's decision. A joint custody agreement will be prepared at the child supervisor's offices. If the parents acknowledge paternity in advance at the maternity clinic, the father will become the child's guardian without a separate agreement/decision on the matter. If necessary, the parents may also agree on the maintenance and visiting rights of the child at the child supervisor's offices. More information on these topics can be found on the website of the Family Law Services.

Acknowledging paternity in advance

1. at a maternity clinic

Paternity can be acknowledged during pregnancy at a maternity clinic if

  • there is only one possible father
  • both parents agree on paternity and are present at the same time
  • the fact that paternity will be acknowledged at the maternity clinic has been agreed upon in advance
  • both parents have valid identity documents with them
  • there is no particular hurry to confirm paternity after the birth of the child
  • the language skills of all concerned parties are sufficient to acknowledge paternity
  • the parents would like the father to also be the child's guardian.

The parents must fill in their personal information on the document for acknowledging paternity in advance on a computer, print out the document and take it with them to the agreed appointment at the maternity clinic. When paternity is acknowledged in advance, the father will also automatically become the child's other guardian. The form can only be signed only at the maternity clinic in the presence of a nurse. If the parents have passports or ID cards granted by a foreign authority, they should bring copies with them in addition to the originals. A copy of the document (the page containing identity information) will be attached to the documents sent to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

The maternity clinic will deliver the verified and signed acknowledgment document to the child supervisor of the mother's home municipality, who will then send a notice of receipt to the parents. When 30 days have passed from the child's birth, the child supervisor will send the paternity document to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency for confirmation.

2. at the Child Supervisors offices

Parents may also acknowledge paternity in advance with the child supervisor if for whatever reason they cannot do so at a maternity clinic. The parents must have valid identity documents, in addition to which the mother must have a maternity card granted at a maternity clinic (proof of pregnancy).

Processing of advance acknowledgment of paternity and confirmation of paternity

The Digital and Population Data Services Agency notifies the child supervisor of the child's home municipality of the birth of a child born outside marriage. The advance acknowledgement of paternity can be disputed or cancelled within 30 days of the birth of the child by the man who acknowledged his paternity, the child's mother or another man who considers himself to potentially be the child's father. The dispute or cancellation must be lodged with the child supervisor in writing, for example by e-mail to lastenvalvoja.helsinki@hel.fi. The letter or e-mail must include the personal details of the concerned parties. If the advance acknowledgement of paternity is cancelled, the child supervisor will begin a paternity investigation by contacting the child's mother.

If an advance acknowledgement of paternity has not been disputed or cancelled, the child supervisor will send the acknowledgment documents to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency 30 days after the child's birth (this time period cannot be deviated from). The Digital and Population Data Services Agency then confirms paternity and sends the confirmation decision directly to the parents. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency takes approximately 2–4 weeks to process the documents.

Investigating and acknowledging paternity after the birth of the child

The Digital and Population Data Services Agency notifies the child supervisor of the child's home municipality of the birth of a child born outside marriage. If the child's paternity was not acknowledged during pregnancy, the child supervisor will send a contact and appointment booking request to the child's mother in order to establish paternity.

Investigating paternity requires both parents to visit the child supervisor in person. Usually, parents book a shared appointment with the child supervisor for the both of them, but the paternity investigation can also be initiated by the child's mother or potential father on their own. A child who has turned 15 may also request a paternity investigation. The concerned parties must have valid identity documents.

A legal DNA paternity test can be conducted at the child supervisors office

If the parents so wish or the child supervisor considers it necessary, a DNA test may be carried out in connection to the paternity investigation. The DNA samples (via a cheek swab) are taken under the child supervisors supervision. The persons swabbed must not have eaten or drunk anything or smoked for at least 30 minutes prior to the sampling.

A forensic DNA test is required if a parent with an immigrant background cannot be granted an official identity document or passport, or if the mother's marital status is unknown.

The test is taken by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). The results of the test are submitted to the child supervisor, who then notifies the parents of the results.

Processing and confirming paternity investigated after the child's birth

When all documents necessary for the investigation and acknowledgement of paternity have been prepared, the child supervisor will send the documents to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency then confirms paternity and sends the confirmation decision directly to the parents. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency takes approximately 2–4 weeks to process the documents.


Assisted fertility treatment

If a couple received assisted fertility treatment together, the man who consented to the treatment is considered to be the child's father. If the parents are not married, paternity must be acknowledged separately, either in advance at a maternity clinic or after the birth of the child at the child supervisors offices. When acknowledging paternity, the parents must present proof of consent for the assisted fertility treatment, a copy of which will be attached to the paternity documents.

If the child's mother received assisted fertility treatment alone and the child was conceived using gametes from an anonymous donor, a decision to discontinue the paternity investigation can be made. However, the mother must personally visit the child supervisor to discuss the matter, and at the same time the mother must present a valid identity document or passport to the child supervisor. The mother must also present proof of consent for the assisted fertility treatment, a copy of which will be attached to the documentation.

If the child's mother received assisted fertility treatment alone but lives in a registered partnership and is at the same time a client of the Family Law Services' Adoption Workgroup due to intrafamily adoption, the matter can be resolved with the adoption counselling social worker, in which case a separate appointment with the child supervisor is not needed. Even in this case, the mother must also present proof of consent for the assisted fertility treatment, a copy of which will be attached to the documentation.  

Paternity of a child born during marriage

If a child is born during marriage, according to law the husband is the child's father. If, in reality, someone else is the child's father, he can initiate a paternity investigation with the child supervisor by acknowledging paternity or expressing his willingness to acknowledge paternity. If both the mother and the mother's husband agree to the paternity investigation, the child supervisor can carry out the investigation. A DNA test can be carried out during the investigation, if necessary.

A married couple may also jointly request a paternity investigation to be conducted within six months of the birth of the child. A DNA test will be carried out to determine paternity, and if the test shows that the husband is not the child's biological father, the married couple may jointly apply for the paternity to be disproved with an application sent to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. However, the Digital and Population Data Services Agency cannot decide on the matter if the mother received assisted fertility treatment at the time the child was conceived. The application for disproving paternity must be filed with the Digital and Population Data Services Agency before a year has passed from the child's birth.

Both the mother and father of a child born during marriage have the right to take legal action in order to disprove paternity in court within two years of the birth of the child.

Forms

Acknowledgement of paternity before the birth of the child (PDF, in Finnish)



01.12.2021 16:40