Louisiana Paternity Establishment Program
What a difference a dad makes!
The Louisiana Paternity Establishment Program (LAPEP) is a program of the Department of Children & Family Services, providing paternity establishment outreach, education, training, guidance, assessment and technical assistance to birthing hospitals, local registrars, child support enforcement offices, community partners and unmarried parents. The program’s focus is to promote voluntary paternity establishment to ensure that children in Louisiana have legally recognized fathers and the financial and emotional support that all children need and deserve.
Paternity establishment is important for children and their parents
All unmarried parents, as well as married or recently divorced parents where a third-party biological father is involved, should think about establishing paternity — because all kids deserve the benefits that legally recognized fatherhood can provide.
If you are married when your child is born, the husband of the mother is established to the child as the child's father with no additional action.
If you are not married when your child is born, paternity has not been legally established to any man.
Establishing paternity gives both parents and their child the rights and opportunities they need and deserve. It’s easy, and it’s free when unmarried parents do it at the hospital when their child is born. It’s easy for married parents and third-party biological fathers, too, but requires one additional step — completing a DNA-based paternity test before the biological father can be added to the birth certificate.
Importance of the Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit (AOP)
The AOP is a legal form parents complete to add the biological father's name to the child's birth certificate. There are two types of AOP forms:
• An AOP form for unmarried parents
• A 3-Party AOP form for married or recently divorced (within 300 of the birth) parents where a third-party biological father is involved. The form requires the agreement of all parties involved – including the mother, the husband/ex-husband, and the biological father – along with a DNA-based paternity test that shows the identity of the biological father with at least 99.9 percent probability.
By signing the form, parents are establishing paternity for their child - meaning legally recognized fatherhood.
+ What are the requirements to complete an AOP form?
Items needed to establish paternity (in-hospital):
Items needed to establish paternity (outside of hospital):
+ Is the AOP the right option for me and my child?
Establishing paternity is an important decision. Completing the AOP form is the quickest and easiest way for unmarried parents to establish legal fatherhood and have the father’s name placed on the birth certificate. Establishing paternity gives you and your child the rights and opportunities you need and deserve.
If you do have any doubts about who the father of the child is, do not sign the paternity form. You may want to get genetic testing completed before you make a decision.
+ Will the father be required to pay child support if he signs the affidavit?
No. The father is not immediately ordered to pay child support. In most cases, it will be up to the guardian of the child to request support. However, if you are receiving certain benefits, a father may be required to pay child support. If you have specific questions about your situation, please contact Child Support Enforcement at 1-888- LAHELP-U (1-888- 524-3578) or visit http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/.
+ What are the guidelines regarding the type of identification that is acceptable for paternity acknowledgments?
The general guideline is a valid government issued ID card, with a picture and signature, for example, Driver’s license, employment badge/ID card. An ID card with a signature only is also acceptable, Social Security Card, Voter Registration Card, Medicare Card, etc. However, the appointed notary is the deciding factor in all cases of which ID they feel comfortable affixing their name to. In most cases, if the ID appears to be authentic in nature, does not appear to be tampered with, and has one or both, picture and/or signature, it is acceptable. Check with the hospital’s Birth Certificate Office to confirm what type of ID is accepted. Proper identification is provided. This form is not used to track non-U.S. residents.
What Is Paternity Establishment & Why Is It Important?
Paternity means fatherhood. The establishment of paternity is the process of creating a legal relationship between a father and child when the child’s parents are unmarried.
If a child is born to an unmarried mother, the child does not have a legal father and the father’s name will not appear on the birth certificate unless the parents take steps to establish paternity.
If the mother is married at the time of birth or has been divorced less than 300 days at the time of birth, her husband is the presumed father of the child unless paternity is established for the biological father.
Upcoming Events and News
Louisiana Paternity Annual Conference
Metairie, LA｜Dec. 18, 2018 East Jefferson General Hospital 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Bossier City, LA｜Dec. 19, 2018 Willis Knighton Innovation Center 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Eunice, LA｜Dec. 20, 2018 Acadian Medical Center 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Newly Remodeled OB Unit at Iberia Medical Center
Take a guided tour of the newly renovated Labor & Delivery Unit Remodeling and Expansion (LDRP/LDR) unit.
Contact us to schedule a tour.
Main Phone: 337-374-7535
Colette LaCombe (337-374-7533) or Heather Huynh
Date: Anytime convenient for client
"As the Outreach Representative for the Louisiana Paternity Establishment Program, I come before many as the voice and educator about the importance of establishing paternity and I really take pride in that. I find pleasure in being a part of the mission to give Louisiana's children the best possible chances at a promising future.” – Tracy Bell, Lead Project Outreach Counselor
Tracy earned her B.S. degree from Southern University and A&M College and is currently a doctoral candidate at Southeastern Louisiana University. Tracy has served in a paternity establishment capacity since 2007 and has been a key driver in increasing Louisiana's statewide in-hospital paternity rate to significantly more than 70 percent.
“Tracy Bell is the best! She's always very helpful when I have questions. She is a big help to our paternity acknowledgment program at Lane Regional Medical Center! We just love her!” - Jeannine Kimble, Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary, LA
Tracy Bell's Contact Information
Toll Free: 1-866-430-9569