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Child Support Division

Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Frequently Asked Questions

  • Question 1: What is voluntary paternity acknowledgment?
  • Question 2: Where are voluntary paternity acknowledgment services provided?
  • Question 3: How does the voluntary paternity acknowledgment process work?
  • Question 4: Can an unmarried parent who is still a minor (under the age of 18) sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form?
  • Question 5: Can a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form be completed before the child is born?
  • Question 6: Can a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form be completed for a child who was not born in North Dakota?
    Question 7: I am separated from my husband and I just had a baby. My husband is not the biological father. Can the baby’s biological father sign the North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form?
  • Question 8: Is there a fee for completing a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form?
  • Question 9: If a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is completed, will the father’s name be on the child’s birth record?
  • Question 10: My girlfriend just had a baby. I want to do the right thing but I am not sure that I’m the father. Should I sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form if I have these doubts?
  • Question 11: How does voluntary paternity acknowledgment affect child support and primary residential responsibility?
  • Question 12: My girlfriend just had a baby and I signed a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital. But now I am having doubts that I am the biological father. Is there a way to “undo” a voluntary paternity acknowledgment?
  • Question 13: I’m going to have a baby and I’m no longer seeing the baby’s biological father. I have a new boyfriend and he is willing to have his name on the baby’s birth certificate. Can my new boyfriend sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form even though he is not the biological father?
  • Question 14: Is a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form a confidential document?
  • Question 15: When I got divorced a few years ago, I kept my ex-husband’s surname.  Now I have a new boyfriend and I’m having his baby.  My boyfriend won’t be at the hospital when I deliver because he is in the military.  He wants to sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form when his tour of duty is over but by that time my baby will be several months old.  I don’t want my baby to have my surname because it is the same as my ex-husband’s.  Can I give my baby my boyfriend’s surname before the North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is signed?

Q. What is voluntary paternity acknowledgment?

A. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment is a simple civil process that can be used to legally establish paternity for a child born to unmarried parents. It is a way to establish the father-child relationship without court involvement. The process is completely voluntary and is meant to be used by parents who are sure who the biological father is.

Q. Where are voluntary paternity acknowledgment services provided?

A. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment services are provided by North Dakota’s birthing hospitals. Most often, voluntary paternity acknowledgment is completed in the hospital within three days of the child’s birth. If voluntary paternity acknowledgment is not completed in the hospital, the parents can receive these services at any time from Vital Records or from one of North Dakota’s Regional Child Support Units.

Q. How does the voluntary paternity acknowledgment process work?

A. When both parents are sure who the father is and wish to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, they can complete a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form. The form includes a description of the rights, responsibilities, and legal consequences of acknowledging paternity. The parents will also receive an oral description of these rights, responsibilities, and legal consequences and they will be given an opportunity to speak to trained staff if they have questions or need more information. When they are ready, the parents sign the form in the presence of a witness. Then the form is filed with Vital Records. The voluntary paternity acknowledgment service providers will assist the parents throughout this process.

Q. Can an unmarried parent who is still a minor (under the age of 18) sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form?

A. Yes. Unmarried parents of any age may sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

Q. Can a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form be completed before the child is born?

A. Under state law, a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form may be signed before the birth of the child. If so, it takes effect when it is filed with Vital Records or when the child is born, whichever occurs later.

Q. Can a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form be completed for a child who was not born in North Dakota?

A. Yes. Under state law, a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form can be completed for a child who was not born in North Dakota.

Q. I am separated from my husband and I just had a baby. My husband is not the biological father. Can the baby’s biological father sign the North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form?

A. If the mother was married to another man when the child was born (or within 300 days before the child was born), the mother, the biological father, and the husband must all sign the North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form in order for it to be valid. There is a section on the form to be completed and signed by the husband to show that he is denying paternity of the child.

Q. Is there a fee for completing a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form?

A. There is no fee for filing a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form. But depending on the circumstances, there may be a small fee for changing the child’s birth record. See Question 9 for more information.

Q. If a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is completed, will the father’s name be on the child’s birth record?

A. If a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is completed at the hospital when the child is born, the father’s name is automatically recorded on the child’s birth record. If a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is not completed at the hospital but is completed before the child’s first birthday, Vital Records will record the father’s name on the child’s birth record free of charge. If a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is completed after the child’s first birthday, Vital Records will charge a small fee to record the father’s name on the child’s birth record.

Q. My girlfriend just had a baby. I want to do the right thing but I am not sure that I’m the father. Should I sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form if I have these doubts?

A. No. A North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is a legal document so signing it is a very serious business. For example, by voluntarily acknowledging paternity, the parents give up the following legal rights:
• The right to have an attorney represent them.
• The right to have genetic testing to show whether or not the man is the child’s biological father.
• The right to a trial to have a court determine if the man if the child’s biological father.

With voluntary paternity acknowledgment, also comes the responsibility to financially support the child. Based on a signed North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form, a court may order the father to pay support and provide health insurance coverage for the child.

The bottom line is that if either parent has any doubt about who the biological father is, voluntary paternity acknowledgment should not be completed. Instead, genetic testing should be pursued. A Regional Child Support Unit can provide information about pursuing genetic testing.

Q. How does voluntary paternity acknowledgment affect child support and primary residential responsibility?

A. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment has the same legal effect as a court order establishing paternity. Therefore, based on a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form, a court may order the father to pay support and provide health insurance coverage for the child. Signing a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form does not automatically give primary residential responsibility to either parent. Instead, if the parents cannot agree, primary residential responsibility must be decided by a court based on the best interests of the child.

Q. My girlfriend just had a baby and I signed a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form at the hospital. But now I am having doubts that I am the biological father. Is there a way to “undo” a voluntary paternity acknowledgment?

A. Once completed and filed with Vital Records, there are two ways for either parent to “undo” a voluntary paternity acknowledgment. Both ways require legal action. First, each parent has 60 days from the date the North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form was filed with Vital Records to start a legal action to rescind the acknowledgment. It is not necessary to state any particular reason to rescind the acknowledgment during this time period.

After the 60-day period to rescind the acknowledgment has passed, either parent still has a limited time period to start a legal action to challenge the acknowledgment. A challenge can only be based on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact. For an acknowledgement completed and filed with Vital Records before August 1, 2013, a challenge action must be started within one year from the date the North Dakota Acknowledgement of Paternity form was filed.

For an acknowledgement completed and filed with Vital Records on or after August 1, 2013, the time period to start a challenge action is two years from the date the North Dakota Acknowledgement of Paternity form was filed.

Q. I’m going to have a baby and I’m no longer seeing the baby’s biological father. I have a new boyfriend and he is willing to have his name on the baby’s birth certificate. Can my new boyfriend sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form even though he is not the biological father?

A. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment is intended to provide a way to establish paternity between a child and the child’s biological father. Therefore, the form is only intended to be signed by the mother and the biological father. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment is not a substitute for adoption.

Q. Is a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form a confidential document?

A. Yes. Under state law, Vital Records may only release information about a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form to the mother, the acknowledging father, the mother’s husband (if he signed the form), courts, and appropriate state or federal agencies in North Dakota or another state.

Q. When I got divorced a few years ago, I kept my ex-husband’s surname.  Now I have a new boyfriend and I’m having his baby.  My boyfriend won’t be at the hospital when I deliver because he is in the military.  He wants to sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form when his tour of duty is over but by that time my baby will be several months old.  I don’t want my baby to have my surname because it is the same as my ex-husband’s.  Can I give my baby my boyfriend’s surname before the North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form is signed?

A. Under state law, if the father’s name is not entered on the child’s birth record, the child’s surname must be the same as the mother’s legal surname at the time of the child’s birth.  If the parents sign and file a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form at a later date, they can specify on the form what name they want the child to have.  Vital Records will update the child’s birth record accordingly, if necessary.

 

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