Consequences of Signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the Hospital
Under Ohio law, if a married couple has a baby, the husband is automatically referred to as the legal father of the child. However, if the couple is unmarried, the law does not presume the father’s identity. Instead, for a man to be acknowledged as the baby’s biological father, he must establish paternity.
A failure to establish paternity could have serious long-term consequences for the child. Without establishment of paternity, the baby would have no legal father. The child would not, for example, be eligible to inherit the father’s government benefits, such as Social Security or veterans’ benefits.
There are two main methods unwed Ohio parents can use to establish paternity. One way to establish paternity is by having a DNA test. This is the way most people associate with establishing paternity. The other way to establish paternity is by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit.
The Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit
This Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit is different than merely signing the birth certificate of the child. Under Ohio law, just because a person signs the birth certificate, it does not establish paternity.
Signing the form is entirely voluntary and typically occurs at the hospital or birthing center at the time of the child’s birth. The facility should have all the forms on hand, and the staff can assist you in completing the paperwork.
Keep in mind that an affidavit is a sworn statement that must be signed in the presence of a notary, and hospitals can usually supply notaries for your signing. Once signed, the form goes to Vital Statistics and the Central Paternity Registry. You may also sign the form later at your nearest Registrar’s Office or CSEA if you have not signed at the hospital.
If you signed the Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit, you have agreed to the following:
- That the individual signing the form is the legal, biological father of the child and that his name may appear on the birth certificate of the child
- That the individual signing the form may be required to pay child support and provide health insurance for the child
- That the child has the right to inherit from the father
- That the individual signing the document only has 1 year (12 months) from the date of signing the affidavit to challenge the paternity of the child
For further guidance on the Acknowledgement of Paternity Affidavit and the process of establishing paternity in Ohio, consult an experienced family law attorney with Fox & Associates Co., L.P.A.