Definition of a Father
To count a man as a child's father, he must be the legal father. He is the legal father if he was married to the child's mother, or in a civil union with the child's other parent when the child was conceived or born, unless there is a court order saying he is not the father.
If the mother was unmarried or not in a civil union when the child was conceived and born, the man is not the legal father unless one of the following things has happened:
- the man said in court that he is the father, or
- he married the child's mother after the birth and his name is on the official birth record, or
- there is a court order saying he is the father, or
- the mother and father have both signed a statement that he is the father and it has been filed with the State.
Once a man becomes a child's legal father, his relatives are the child's blood relatives. Their degree of kinship is the same as other blood relatives.
If the alleged father of a child applies for TANF and the mother is not in the home, the case may be presumed eligible while the legal relationship (paternity) is being established.
The alleged father must cooperate with the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) in establishing paternity. If he fails to cooperate, his status as the child's father can no longer be presumed, and he and the child are ineligible.
As long as the alleged father is cooperating with DCSE, there is no time limit on how long the case can stay in presumed status.
Policy used to say that a man could be considered a father if he signed a statement saying that he was the father of the child. Since March 4, 1991, this is no longer true. But if a man has continuously been in an AFDC/TANF case since before March 4, 1991, by signing a statement, he still qualifies. If he becomes ineligible for AFDC/TANF for another reason, the alleged father can only apply for TANF on a presumed basis and must cooperate with DCSE in establishing paternity.