Paternity Affidavit Information for Parents

Below contains information for unmarried parents regarding paternity affidavits. To learn more about child support related topics, please visit Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a paternity affidavit?

The paternity affidavit is a form that legally establishes paternity.

2. What is a legal father?

The legal father is a man whom the law recognizes as the father of the child.

  • The legal father may be able to take legal steps to get visitation or custody rights. Establishing paternity DOES NOT automatically give a father these rights.
  • The legal father has a duty to help support the child financially. When the parents do not live together, the paternity affidavit can be used to get an order for child and medical support.  No further action of paternity is required.

3. How much money does it cost to complete the paternity affidavit?

The paternity affidavit is free to complete and file.

4. What do I need to bring to complete a paternity affidavit?

Both parents need to bring the following:

One of the following IDs (issued by the U.S. government)

  • driver’s license
  • state photo ID
  • work photo ID
  • school photo ID (current school year)
  • military ID
  • United States passport or visa
  • permanent resident card
  • employment authorization card

The Paternity Affidavit is a free one-page form that can be completed by the child’s biological parents at any time after the child is born.

OR two to three of the following IDs (names and current addresses must match)

  • expired driver’s license (with one other document in the same name)
  • income tax return
  • rent or mortgage receipts
  • car title
  • court documents
  • criminal record
  • insurance policy
  • utility bill – current and same mailing address
  • Medicare, Medicaid, or medical card
  • hospital bill

More information on acceptable forms of ID

5. Where can I complete a paternity affidavit?

Paternity affidavits can be completed at the hospital at the time of birth, the local county recorder office or a local Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) office. All paternity affidavits submitted require a notary public’s signature and a copy of each parent’s ID (see above for appropriate IDs).

6. Who can complete a paternity affidavit?

The biological mother and father both sign the paternity affidavit and agree that the people signing are the biological mother and father, which establishes a legal father.

However, if the mother was married at conception or at the birth or at any time in between conception and birth, the person the mother was married to is considered the legal father. In this situation, a court order needs to be filed to disestablish the legal father.

7. When can I complete the paternity affidavit?

The paternity affidavit can be completed any time after the child is born.

8. Why should I complete a paternity affidavit?

  • Completing a paternity affidavit establishes a legal father for your child, which might lead to child support, health insurance, medical coverage, education costs, disability insurance, custody, visitation rights, Social Security, and more.
  • Establishing a legal father for your child may decrease the risk of learning disabilities, substandard academic achievement, behavioral problems, and teenage pregnancy.
  • Establishing paternity at the hospital is associated with more father involvement throughout the child’s life.
  • Paternity establishment may lead to more emotional support, social entitlement, and financial resources for children.
  • Children with fathers who provide for their children and who have positive and regular connections may have better emotional wellbeing and may have fewer behavioral problems.
  • Establishing paternity is associated with increased child support and visitation, which is positively associated with the child’s mental health and wellbeing

9. My baby’s father and I are living together and get along well. Why should I establish paternity?

Even if a child’s parents are together and get along, the child is not eligible for any legal benefits until paternity is established, either through a paternity affidavit or court order.

Test Your Knowledge!

Paternity Affidavit Quiz

Address misconceptions and myths about paternity establishment

Other Resources for Parents


The Child Welfare Research & Training Project (CWRTP) provides oversight of the Paternity Affidavit Training Program for the State of Iowa. This includes training development and provision through various methods as well as information distribution for birthing centers throughout the state. On this page, you will find information about paternity affidavits.

For more information or answers, please contact Abby Stanek at astanek@dhs.state.ia.us.

To learn more about child support related topics, please visit Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit.