Everything You Need to Know So You Can Protect Your Rights.

Before you read any further, there are two main things you should know about the Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form, sometimes called the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form:

  • Signing the AOP form is voluntary. If there is any doubt about who the biological father is, it is best to get a DNA test before signing the form.
  • Different states have different laws: Know the law before you sign!

Read further to learn more…

The Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form is:

  • A document that the unwed, natural birth parents sign to protect their rights as well as the child’s rights.
  • It is usually signed in the hospital, right after the birth of the child.
  • The mother and father’s names can be added to the birth certificate after they sign the AOP.

What rights are guaranteed by signing the AOP?

By signing the AOP, the father accepts responsibility for the child and acknowledges his parental rights:

  • To provide child support
  • To have his name on the birth certificate
  • To be notified and consulted if there is an adoption proceeding

If you have already acknowledged paternity, it is possible that the court may order you to pay child support without a court hearing or proof of paternity through DNA testing.


Remember

If there is uncertainty about who the biological father is, do not sign this form, or you may be obligated to pay child support.


What happens if I’ve already signed the AOP, and then I find out I’m not the father?

If you have already signed the AOP, you may be able to rescind–or take back–the acknowledgement. You can only take back the acknowledgement of paternity during what is called the rescission period.


Important

Each state has its own laws for the rescission period.
The rescission period is the amount of time the state gives you to take back or challenge the AOP.  Check with your state’s Vital Records office for the rescission period.
You will probably need a Legally Admissible DNA Test if you want to challenge the AOP once the rescission period has passed.


An individual can withdraw the AOP if there has not already been a court ruling.

If the time has passed for you to change the AOP, you will need to prove to the court that:

  • You signed under duress
  • There was fraud
  • or an incident occurred that caused you to make a serious mistake

Will I automatically have to pay child support if I sign the AOP?

Signing the AOP does not automatically create a court order for child support. However, if you sign the AOP, you are acknowledging responsibility for the child, and the court may eventually order that you pay child support.

What rights are NOT guaranteed by signing the AOP?

The AOP does not guarantee custody of the child or visitation rights to the child. If there is a disagreement between parents regarding these matters, they will need to solve these issues in court.

What information is on the AOP form?

  • Child’s full name
  • Mother’s full name
  • Father’s full name, date of birth, address and Social Security number

What if the mother was married when the child was conceived/born?

Laws are different from state to state.  Be sure you fully understand your state’s laws before moving forward. In many states, if the mother was married when the child was conceived, the man who was her husband at the time may be added to the birth certificate even though he is not the biological father. You will probably need a DNA test if you want to prove paternity and have the ex-husband’s name removed from the birth certificate.

Things to Remember:

  • Signing the Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) is voluntary
  • Laws are different from state to state.  Check with your state’s Vital Records Office.
  • Research your state’s laws to find out about the rescission period (the period of time you have to take back the AOP).
  • If the mother was married when the child was conceived,the man who was her husband at the time may be added to the birth certificate, even though he is not the biological father.
  • DO NOT sign the AOP form if you are unsure who the biological father is.
  • If you aren’t sure who the biological father is, get a DNA test.