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Paternity investigation and confirmation of paternity

Paternity investigation and confirmation of paternity    

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 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, the paternity must be separately confirmed either through acknowledgment or a court decision. 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 and the right to meet with and communicate with the father. The guardian of a child born outside of marriage is the mother, but after paternity has been confirmed, the parents may agree that both parents are entrusted with taking care of the child. If necessary, the parents may also agree on the maintenance of the child or visiting rights. More information on these topics can be found on the Family law services pages.

Acknowledging paternity in advance 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 must fill out 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 (pregnancy week 30–33). If the parents wish to also agree in advance on their shared custody of the child, they should also fill out their personal information on the relevant form in advance on a computer and print it out for the appointment. The forms are signed at the maternity clinic in the presence of a nurse. If the parents have passports or ID cards granted by any authority other than the Finnish authorities, they should also bring copies thereof with them in addition to the originals. A copy (of the personal information page) will be attached to the documents to be sent to the Local Register Office.

The maternity clinic delivers the verified and signed acknowledgment documents to the child welfare officer of the mother's home municipality, who then sends a notice of receipt to the parents.

Acknowledging paternity in advance with the child welfare officer

Parents may also acknowledge paternity in advance with the child welfare officer 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 Local Register Office notifies the birth of a child born outside marriage to the child welfare officer of the child's home municipality. 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 welfare officer in writing, or via e-mail, sent to the address 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 welfare officer will begin a paternity investigation by contacting the child's mother.
The child welfare officer will send the undisputed paternity documents to the Local Register Office 30 days after the birth of the child (without exceptions). The Local Register Office then confirms paternity and sends the confirmation decision directly to the parents. The Local Register Office takes approximately 2–4 weeks to process the documents.

Investigating and acknowledging paternity after the birth of the child

The Local Register Office notifies the child welfare officer 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 welfare officer will send a contact and appointment booking request to the child's mother in order to establish paternity.
The child's parents may book a shared appointment with the child welfare officer in order to acknowledge paternity. The acknowledgment of paternity is subject to the mother's approval, so it is crucial that both parents attend the appointment.  A paternity investigation can also be initiated by the child's mother or potential father alone. 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 welfare officer's office

If the parents wish for it or if the child welfare office deems it necessary, paternity can also be established based on a DNA test. The parents' and the child's inner cheek swab samples used in the DNA test are taken by the parents themselves under the supervision of the child welfare officer. The persons swabbed must not have eaten or drunk anything or smoked for at least 30 minutes prior to the sampling.

A legal DNA paternity test can also be conducted if a parent with an immigrant background cannot be granted an official identity document or passport.

The results of the test are delivered to the child welfare officer, who then notifies the parents of the results.

Confirmation of paternity established after the birth of the child

In the event that paternity is established after the birth of the child, the child welfare officer will send the documents concerning acknowledgement and establishment of paternity to the Local Register Office immediately. The Local Register Office then confirms paternity and sends the confirmation decision directly to the parents. The Local Register Office takes approximately 1–4 weeks to process the documents.

Infertility treatment

If a couple received infertility treatment together, the man who agreed 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 welfare officer's office. When acknowledging paternity, the parents must present the treatment consent for the infertility treatment, a copy of which will be attached to the paternity documents.  

If the child's mother received infertility 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 welfare officer to discuss the matter, and at the same time the mother must present a valid identity document or passport to the child welfare officer. In addition to this, the mother must also present the treatment consent for the infertility treatment, a copy of which will be attached to the paternity documents.  

If the child's mother received infertility 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, paternity can be established with the adoption counselling social worker, in which case a separate appointment with the child welfare officer is not needed. In this case the mother must also present the treatment consent for the infertility treatment, a copy of which will be attached to the paternity documents.  

Confirming paternity in court

If a child's paternity cannot be established and confirmed voluntarily, the child welfare officer may take legal action in order to confirm the child's paternity in court. A man may also take legal action in order to confirm paternity in the event that the mother refuses to establish paternity at the child welfare officer's office.

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 the child's father is actually someone else, they may acknowledge paternity at the child welfare officer's office with the approval of both the mother and the husband. A married couple may also together request a paternity investigation to be conducted within 6 months of the birth of the child. In this case the concerned parties will be DNA tested in order to establish paternity.
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.  



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24.02.2017 14:21