Information for Parents

Information for unmarried parents about the VPA process can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a voluntary paternity affidavit?

  • The voluntary paternity affidavit is a form that legally establishes paternity.

What is a legal father?

  • The legal father is a man recognized by law as the child's father.
    • Legal fathers may be able to take steps to get visitation or custody rights, but establishing paternity DOES NOT automatically give him 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.

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

  • The paternity affidavit is free to complete and file.

What do I need to bring to complete a voluntary 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
  • 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

Where can I complete a voluntary paternity affidavit?

*All paternity affidavits submitted require a notary public’s signature and a copy of each parent's ID (see above for appropriate IDs).

Who can complete a voluntary paternity affidavit?

  • The biological mother and father both sign the paternity affidavit and agree the people signing are the biological mother and father. If the mother was married at conception, 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.

When can I complete the voluntary paternity affidavit?

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

Why should I complete a voluntary paternity affidavit?

  • Completing a voluntary 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

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 voluntary paternity affidavit or court order.

Other Resources for Parents

VPA Program Partners:

For specific questions about the voluntary paternity affidavit, call the Bureau of Health Statistics at (515) 281-6687.

To learn more about child support related topics, please visit the Iowa Child Support Services website.

The Child Welfare Research & Training Project (CWRTP) provides oversight of the Paternity Affidavit Training Program for the State of Iowa.

The VPA Program is funded through a partnership between Iowa State University and Iowa Child Support.