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Complete a Paternity Acknowledgement Form to Protect Rights as a Father

Updated on January 6, 2013
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Not Married to Your Child's Mother? Protect Your Rights.

Each year in the United States, more than 50% of all births are born out of wedlock. With marriage becoming less popular, more and more children are being born to single mothers. This does not automatically mean that fathers are any less interested in being a part of their child’s life. However, when a father is not married to the mother of the child, he does not have the same rights or entitlements to his child as a man who is married to the mother of the child. One way to guarantee rights as a father is to complete a free acknowledgment of paternity form when the child is born.

An acknowledgement of paternity (AOP) form can provide a father with rights when he is not married to the mother of the child. It can be completed immediately after birth. Most hospitals have a full time social worker on hand who checks in with the family upon a child’s birth. The social worker visits each new family to provide services such as the request for a birth certificate and social security number (in most states). Fathers can request assistance with the completion of an AOP form.

While signing the AOP does not grant the father instant rights to visitation and custody, it legally establishes paternity in the eyes of the law. When a father signs the form, his name will appear on the child’s birth certificate as the father. If the child’s paternity is questionable, a father can request that a test is administered before signing the AOP. In most areas, paternity tests may be requested through the local Department of Social Services.

How Signing an AOP Benefits the Father

  • By signing the acknowledgement of paternity form, the father will be listed on the child's birth certificate as a parent.
  • The AOP form gives a father the right to pay child support for his child.
  • By signing the AOP form, the father listed will be notified and legally considered in any adoption proceedings that may occur.
  • While the AOP does not give a father rights to visitation or custody, it does establish that the father is interested in the child and gives the court a favorable impression during visitation and custody proceedings.

How Signing an AOP Benefits the Child

  • Completing an AOP allows an unmarried father to have his name added to the birth certificiate. Regardless of the relationship between the mother and father, the child will have a legal document that lets them know who their real biological father is.
  • In the event of the death of the father, the child will receive death benefits such as Social Security and insurance funds.

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