As a father in Nebraska who has never been married to the mother of your children, establishing paternity is necessary before you can seek custody. This requires a very specific legal process. It is important to carefully follow the applicable rules, or your action to establish paternity may not be successful.

You probably have many questions about this process. Here are answers to a few of the most significant.

  1. Is genetic testing required?

Yes. In some states, affidavits or sworn testimony from each parent may be enough to establish paternity, but Nebraska requires DNA testing to prove it. Not only will you need to provide the results of your genetic testing that demonstrate that you are the biological father, you must also submit a “chain of custody” that shows who performed every step of the process. If you are not sure where to go to obtain genetic testing, your local child support enforcement office can provide the necessary information.

  1. Who can initiate the action to establish paternity?

You, as the presumed father of the child, have the right to initiate the action to establish paternity. The mother of the child can also initiate a similar action. Additionally, the state, the legal guardian or the “next friend” of a child can also initiate an action. A next friend is someone who acts on an infant’s behalf in the absence of a legal guardian.

  1. Is there a time limit?

Yes, but different limits apply depending on who initiates the action. If you or the child’s mother initiate the action to establish paternity, the time limit in which to do so is four years from the date of the child’s birth. However, if your child is not yet born, you can also take action during the pregnancy.

The state, a next friend or a legal guardian can initiate the action anytime during the pregnancy up until the child’s 18th birthday.