What is the VPA Program?

The Voluntary Paternity Affidavit Program provides information, resources, and training to help Iowa families, hospitals and clinics, and community organizations understand the importance of establishing paternity, and learn how to complete the VPA process.

What is a paternity affidavit?

The paternity affidavit is a form that legally establishes paternity.

What is a legal father?

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

  • Legal fathers may be able to take legal steps to get visitation or custody rights, but 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.

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.

How much does completing a voluntary paternity affidavit cost?

The paternity affidavit is free to complete and file.

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

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

Where can I complete a paternity affidavit?

Parents can complete a VPA at the hospital at the time of birth, the local county recorder office (PDF) or a local child support office. 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 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, at the birth, 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 paternity affidavit?

Parents can complete the paternity affidavit any time after the child is born.

My child’s father and I live 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 and the father has no legal rights to the child until paternity is established through a paternity affidavit or court order.

To learn more about child support related topics, or to answer other questions, please visit Iowa Child Support.

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.