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More and more often in recent years, couples are opting to have children without first being married. In fact, the rate of out-of-wedlock births has risen from 28 percent in 1990 to 40 percent in 2016 according to a Child Trends report, and 25% of parents with primary custody in the US today are unmarried.
This trend puts greater pressure on the need for clear and legal methods for outlining co-parenting, custody, and visitation rights, as well as responsibility for child support if the parents are separated. One of the most common methods for assigning those rights and responsibilities is known as an affidavit of parentage.
What Is an Affidavit of Parentage?
An affidavit of parentage is a statement of paternity signed by both parents.
When a child is born to a couple that is already married, the law assumes that the husband is the father. While that may or may not be always true, that role is legally imposed as long as it is not challenged or proven to be false. The role of parent, along with all the legal and financial implications, is assigned to the husband and wife and both will be listed on the birth certificate.
If the couple is unmarried, however, the process may look different. The father can still sign the birth certificate, which establishes his role as the legal and biological father of the child. It also makes him financially responsible for the child. It doesn’t, however, grant him access or time-sharing rights.
That’s where the affidavit of parentage comes in. In some cases you may even need to first sign the affidavit of parentage before you can sign the birth certificate. By signing this form, the father is then able to assert his custody and time-sharing rights, as well as his obligations financially and legally.
In order for this affidavit to be valid, both parents must sign the form. Doing so also means that both the mother and father are swearing under oath that the man is the biological father. An affidavit of parentage in North Carolina will need to include:
- The county in which you are establishing paternity
- Mother’s name
- Father’s name
- Mother’s address
- Father’s address
- Father’s date of birth
- Father’s race
- Father’s social security number
- Father’s birthplace
- Mother’s maiden name
- Mother’s social security number
- Names of children
- Dates of birth of children
- Social security numbers of children
- Birthplaces of children
The document will also need to be notarized to be valid.
Typically, the affidavit of parentage will be presented at the hospital, but if you need to request one you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paternity and the Affidavit of Parentage
As mentioned above, the affidavit of parentage counts as an acknowledgement of the biological paternity of the man who signs it. It’s important to note that doing so waives his right to genetic testing or court trial to prove paternity at any point down the line.
How Long Do You Have to Establish Paternity in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, you have until a child’s eighteenth birthday to establish paternity. That can be done through an affidavit of parentage, though you can also do so through a paternity lawsuit.
You may also be able to establish paternity if the biological parents get married after the birth of the child.
Where To File an Affidavit of Parentage
Where you file your affidavit of parentage will depend on when you sign the required forms. In many cases, the affidavit will be presented to the parents at the hospital after the birth of the baby. If that is the case, the hospital may be able to send it to the North Carolina Vital Records office.
If it is filed later, the form can be requested by emailing the Vital Records department at email@example.com, or at the county register of deeds in the county where the child was born. It can then be filed by mail, in person, or on their website. There is no fee for the affidavit of parentage in North Carolina.
Can an Affidavit of Parentage Be Revoked?
Revoking or nullifying an affidavit of parentage is possible, but only in very specific circumstances. For instance, if it has been less than 60 days from the first signing of the affidavit, you may be able to set it aside.
Once you hit that 60 day mark, though, the process gets a little more complicated. In those cases, a court very rarely approves the request to rescind the affidavit—and only if the party challenging the order can prove one of the following:
- Mutual mistake
- Excusable neglect
So, if the challenger can prove that they were lied to or coerced into signing, or if a paternity test confirms that they are not the father, an affidavit may be rescinded. Similarly, if both parents recognize that they were mutually mistaken about the child’s biological father, they can ask for the form to be revoked.
If the affidavit of parentage is rescinded, the rights and responsibilities imposed are no longer valid. That means financial support is no longer required, but it also means that custody, visitation, and time-sharing are not either.
To request that an affidavit of parentage in North Carolina be revoked, you will need to retrieve a copy from NC Vital Records, as well as present the birth certificate.
Contact a Raleigh Family Lawyer About an Affidavit of Parentage
At The Doyle Law Group, we specialize in family law. That includes cases of paternity, requests to rescind an affidavit of parentage, child support claims, and more. If you are looking for expert help for your case, our team can provide the experience and expertise to make sure you and your child are properly represented and get the support you need.
We serve residents of Pinehurst, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Sanford, Gastonia, Matthews, Concord, as well as surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us at (919) 296-1638 or complete the online contact form below to discuss your options and schedule a consultation.