Unlike when married couples have a child, the state does not assume paternity for children born to unwed couples. Therefore, unmarried men must act to legally establish themselves as their children’s fathers. One such path toward creating a legal parent-child relationship with their children involves signing an acknowledgment of paternity form and filing it with the state.
Before taking this step, however, it may benefit unmarried dads to know more about the rights and responsibilities they may access by signing this form.
Does the mother have to agree?
According to the Washington State Department of Health, the mother must agree for unmarried fathers to establish paternity by filing an AOP form. Both parents must sign the form in front of either a witness or a notary.
What if someone else claims to be the father?
Sometimes, more than one person may claim paternity for a child. Under such circumstances, fathers cannot establish paternity by signing an acknowledgment of paternity form. Therefore, unmarried fathers must pursue other paths, such as obtaining genetic testing or going to court.
Does an acknowledgment of paternity require a DNA test?
According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, to sign an acknowledgment of paternity form, unwed fathers do not need to have genetic testing. However, they may get DNA testing if they choose.
Can fathers change their minds after signing the AOP?
Fathers, as well as mothers, may change their minds after signing an AOP. However, the state limits the window for parents to rescind their signatures to not more than 60 days of the form’s filing. Under certain circumstances, parents may challenge acknowledges for up to four years after the AOP form’s filing.
Signing an acknowledgment of the paternity form may bring great benefits, as well as significant responsibilities. Understanding the effect of signing an AOP may help unwed fathers make the right decisions for themselves and their children.