Voluntary Declarations of Paternity
There are a number of ways for a child’s biological father to declare paternity, one of which is to complete a voluntary declaration. Completing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity is an option often chosen by fathers who are unmarried to the mother of their child, as it provides the legal benefits and rights of parenthood without the need to go to court. In most cases, these declarations are completed at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, so that both of the child’s biological parents will be listed on his or her birth certificate. It is, however, possible to sign a declaration of paternity at a later date, in which case, the state will need to reissue the child’s birth certificate. In either case, it is important for unmarried fathers who have concerns about establishing their paternity of a child, to speak with an experienced paternity and father’s rights attorney who can ensure that they comply with all legal requirements and processes.
Signing at Birth
One of the most common times to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity is at the time of a child’s birth. This allows the father’s name to be placed on the child’s birth certificate immediately and ensures that his or her parental rights are immediately established. After signing the declaration, either parent has the option of canceling it, but only if they do so within 60 days. However, even if the acknowledgement of paternity is canceled within this time frame, the father’s name can only be removed from the child’s birth certificate by court order.
Signing at a Later Date
Fortunately, it is also possible for fathers who were not present at their child’s birth to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity at a later date. In these cases, the signing must be notarized or completed in the presence of two witnesses, at which point, the form must be sent to the Office of Vital Statistics. Once the form has been received, the office prepares and files a new birth certificate reflecting the changes.
Benefits of Declaring Paternity
There are a number of benefits to acknowledging paternity of a child. For instance, declaring paternity gives children:
- The right to receive financial support from both parents;
- Access to their father’s medical benefits;
- Access to their father’s medical history information;
- Access to survivor’s benefits; and
- Rights of inheritance.
Fathers who voluntarily declare paternity also have rights to visitation and to provide input when it comes to the child’s care.
Once paternity has been legally established by signing the declaration, it can only be challenged if the father can demonstrate that:
- His signature was obtained through fraud;
- His signature was obtained under duress; or
- There was a material mistake of fact.
Only after this burden has been met will a court be willing to remove a person’s name from a child’s birth certificate.
Call Our Office Today
Fathers do have options other than signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity when it comes to acknowledging paternity. However, these options usually involve lengthy court hearings and DNA tests. To avoid this and establish paternity at the birth of your child, please contact dedicated Fort Lauderdale paternity and father’s rights attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 or send us an online message today.