Acknowledgement of paternity

Acknowledgement of paternity primarily takes place at a maternity health clinics  and secondarily at the child welfare supervisor’s office.

One in three babies is born to parents who live in a cohabiting partnership, i.e. they are not married. In these families, it is usually clear who the father is, and the mother’s partner wants to acknowledge their paternity. In such cases, a separate visit to the child welfare officer after the baby is born is not required.

Expectant parents are informed of acknowledgement during a visit to the maternity and child health clinic. Paternity is usually acknowledged during weeks 30–32 of pregnancy. The father acknowledges his paternity personally to the nurse in the presence of the baby’s mother and with the mother’s consent at the maternity and child health clinic that the mother has been visiting. The identity of both the mother and the father is verified with appropriate identity documents during the acknowledgement event.

Both parents must understand the importance of the acknowledgement and its legal consequences. As of 1 December 2019, acknowledgement of paternity has automatically meant joint custody. If the parents do not want joint custody, the acknowledgement of paternity is done after the child is born at the child welfare officer’s office.

The acknowledgement of paternity creates a legally valid family connection. The parents of a child are liable to provide maintenance, and the child is entitled to maintenance until 18 years of age. Even after that age, the child will be entitled to maintenance for education if it is reasonable. The child will have the right to inherit his/her father and paternal relatives and a right to the father’s last name. The acknowledgement of paternity also makes it possible to agree on sole custody, living arrangements and the right of access later.

The Digital and Population Data Services Agency confirms paternity

From the clinic (neuvola), the processing of a paternity case is transferred first to the child welfare supervisor  and then to the local register office for confirmation.  It is possible to cancel a paternity that was acknowledged in advance by informing the child welfare supervisor no later than 30 days after the birth. After the 30-day deadline, the child welfare supervisor will process the matter and transfer the confirmation of paternity to The Digital and Population Data Services Agency. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency sends the decision on the confirmation of paternity by post directly to the parents. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency may refrain from confirming paternity if there is reason to doubt the paternity of the person who acknowledged it. Once paternity has been confirmed, the child welfare supervisor confirms the joint custody agreement signed at the clinic and sends it by post to the parents.

It is still not possible to agree on lone parenting, maintenance, visitation rights or living arrangements at the maternity health clinic. These matters are agreed at the child welfare supervisor’s office after the birth, if necessary.

The acknowledgement of paternity does not apply to married couples because paternity is determined based on the mother’s marriage.