Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
The quickest and easiest way to establish that a person is the legal father of a child is to complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. These forms are readily available at all hospitals, and there are instructions and details about the legal effects on the form. The VAP requires that both parents execute the form in front of a witness. If not done at the hospital, it is still possible for parents to execute a VAP at a future date. By signing the VAP, the father’s name will appear on the birth certificate.
Once a VAP has been signed, it can be rescinded within 60 days of its execution if either parent signs a Rescission of VAP form. Once the 60 day time period has lapsed, if no rescission has occurred, the man is legally deemed to be the father of the child. The only basis for challenging a VAP thereafter is by filing a petition in court and proving fraud, duress or material mistake of fact. It is extremely difficult to challenge paternity once a VAP is signed and after the period of rescission has expired.
If you have a VAP, you can file an action for child support, allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time without the need to first establish paternity of the child, which can expedite the process substantially. Additionally, thanks to new laws in place, having the VAP can reduce filing fees.
Because it is difficult to challenge a VAP, signing one can have severe consequences for both parties. Thus, a person should be fully informed of the legal meaning and effect of doing so before he or she signs one.
Before you sign a VAP, you should speak with an attorney to confirm that you understand what it means and how it will affect you. Additionally, if you have already signed a VAP and now want to challenge paternity, seek an allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, or seek child support, you should speak with an attorney who can assist you in achieving your goals. The attorneys of Kollias & Giese, P.C. are available to speak with you today regarding these issues.