Filing a Court Action to Establish Parentage
If either of you doubts the father’s identity, file an action to establish parentage in the Family Division of Superior Court.
The court may:
If you have questions about the process, ask the court clerk. You can also get information and forms online at www.VermontJudiciary.org.
What happens next?
The court will schedule a hearing and issue a summons to the mother and alleged father. Either parent may object in writing to the summons and may hire an attorney to represent his or her interests. However, if one party (the mother or alleged father) fails to appear for the hearing without advising the court in advance (called answering the summons), the court may establish parentage by default. In other words, ignoring the notice does not stop the court from proceeding. By failing to answer the summons, a parent risks not having his or her arguments or concerns addressed by the court.
At the hearing, if both parties agree, a written agreement (or stipulation) establishing parentage is prepared for the judge’s signature. If either party requests genetic testing, a written agreement (or stipulation) setting forth the dates and times of the testing is prepared. If the court agrees with the stipulation, it will order genetic testing to proceed. Either party may object to the testing. The law also allows either parent to be exempt from genetic testing for good cause, such as a concern about potential family violence.
How does genetic testing work?
If genetic testing is ordered, you will be scheduled to see a specimen collector in the area where you live. The custodial parent and child are not scheduled to be tested at the same time as the alleged father—unless requested by both parties.
When you arrive at the testing site, you will:
The genetic samples are sent to a laboratory where they are compared. Testing is based on DNA and is extremely accurate. By comparing the three genetic samples, the test can establish with 99.9% certainty whether the alleged father is the biological parent.
If you need more information or help establishing parentage, please contact the OCS Helpline at 1-800-786-3214 or OCSCSU@state.vt.us.
For more detailed information about establishing parentage and other child-support related topics, you should read: Child Support in Vermont: A Handbook for Parents (pdf)