Acknowledgment Of Paternity Is A Legal Commitment To Parenthood
Birth of a child.
When a child is born, a few things happen that determine parenthood. Obviously, the mother is known instantly. After the birth, the natural mother and alleged father sign an “acknowledgment of paternity affidavit” at the hospital or a local child support enforcement agency. The execution of it is notarized.
After the acknowledgment of paternity affidavit is signed and notarized, it is sent to the office of child support. Once the office receives this paternity document, it must send it out after no later than ten (10) days to be corrected by the parents. After all these paternity documents have been completed correctly, the department will enter the information into the birth registry, officially cementing the natural mother and alleged father as the parents of the child.
Oh No! You’re not the father, what now?
What if, following the filing and registering of the birth information listing you as the father, you discover that you’re not the father?
The Ohio Revised Code lists specific circumstances that must occur in order for you to rescind your acknowledgment of parenthood. These circumstances are as follows…
- Not later than SIXTY days after the date of the latest signature on the acknowledgment, one of the persons who signed it must do both of the following:
- Request a determination of whether there is a parent and child relationship between the man who signed the acknowledgment and the child who is the subject of it;
- Give the office written notice of having complied with section 1 (60 day requirement) of this section.
The Code also requires an order to be issued to determine whether there is a parent/child relationship between the man and child.
The Revised Code provides that “after an acknowledgment of paternity becomes final and enforceable, the child is the child of the man who signed the acknowledgment of paternity, as though born to him in lawful wedlock.” Consequently, courts have held that a formal acknowledgement of paternity, once final and enforceable, cannot be rebutted-even by the results of genetic testing-unless rescinded pursuant to R.C. 3111.28.
Section 3111.28 discusses ways to rescind the acknowledgment by ways of “Fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.” This section puts a one (1) year limitation on following the filing of the acknowledgment for someone to bring a rescission action.
What if you miss the paternity deadlines?
If you miss the deadlines for the rescissions, you could be in trouble. There is a section of the Ohio Revised Code that allows for certain parties to bring an action to determine the father-child relationship. In order to bring this paternity action though, you must have standing. Standing here is determined by bringing a request for administrative determination, and these can only be brought by…
“the child’s mother or her personal representative, a man alleged or alleging himself to be the child’s father, the child support enforcement agency of the county in which the child resides if the child’s mother, father, or alleged father is a recipient of public assistance or of services under Title IV-D of the “Social Security Act,” as amended, or the alleged father’s personal representative.” (Citations omitted for clarity).
- The child’s mother (or representative)
- Alleged or alleging father
- Child support agency (if recipient of public assistance)
This is troubling considering if you’ve signed the papers, acknowledged that you’re the father, and missed your timelines to rescind, you do not qualify to bring an administrative determination. The statute lists a few exceptions to the necessity of the administrative determination, naming only the child’s mother, and putative father (alleged) as individuals who can file without administrative determination.
If there are alleged fathers out there, the mother, child, or the alleged fathers may bring paternity suit to establish paternity. This is generally done through genetic testing.
There is no current way to relinquish your fatherhood of a child if you do not rescind your acknowledgment within the 60 days to 1-year period, and do not know who the alleged father may be. The lesson is to “know before you sign” when it comes to the acknowledgment of parenthood. Because by this document you are not only solidifying that you are the father, you are committing legally to raising the child with the natural mother.
Other Questions Regarding Paternity Issues
- When a child is born to a married couple, the father/husband is automatically considered to have established paternity of the child.
- If your child is born and you’re not married at the time of birth, becoming married after birth does not create an assumption of paternity to the husband. You must go through the legal process of establishing paternity.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.