Written by Jonathan Breeden
Questions about the parentage of a child can be complicated. They are often legally complex and emotionally charged. The outcomes of these disputes can have a long-lasting impact on the child and everyone involved.
An Affidavit of Parentage determines the identity of a child’s father. It is a legal document voluntarily signed by the parents of a child that creates a binding statement of paternity. This form affirms who is the presumed father in a situation where the parents are unmarried. (When the parents are married, the husband is presumed to be the father.)
An Affidavit of Parentage gives the paternal parent rights and also imposes obligations. When people voluntarily assume parenthood, they are obligated to support the child financially. Both a mother and father have financial obligations to a child.
Those obligations are split depending on custody, visitation, and other factors. The court may order child support when a person signs an Affidavit of Parentage. A father also has a right to seek child custody and visitation. The state of North Carolina believes that it is in the child’s best interests to have both parents involved in their lives.
A parent may only be excluded from a child’s life in extreme circumstances. Signing an Affidavit of Parentage gives an individual the right to seek visitation or custody in court.
A North Carolina Affidavit of Parentage must include the following information:
Both parents must date and sign the document and have it notarized.
You could rescind or “set aside” an Affidavit of Parentage in limited circumstances. For example, either person who signed the affidavit may rescind it within the following dates:
If it has been longer than 60 days or an order has already been entered, the Affidavit of Parentage may still be eliminated if it was entered into because of fraud, duress, mutual mistake, or excusable neglect.
Also, if a genetic test establishes that the paternal signor is not the biological father, the affidavit may be rescinded. The challenger of the affidavit has the burden to prove the issue.
That means if both parents believed a person to be the father but were mistaken, the affidavit can be rescinded after the statutory deadline. Similarly, it may be rescinded if the person was lied to or coerced into signing an affidavit.
To rescind an Affidavit of Parentage, an individual must request that the court make an order with specific findings that a rescission was filed correctly, and appropriate parties must be served a notice.
If the rescission is permitted, the father’s name will get removed from the birth certificate. If the father defaults or fails to present information about the paternity issue, the trial court would issue an order that the putative father is the biological father as a matter of law.
An Affidavit of Parentage could benefit both parents. It is often used as a leverage tool in family law cases. If you have questions about whether you should complete an Affidavit of Parentage, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights.
The legal team at Breeden Law Office understands North Carolina laws and how to use them to your advantage. We can help you achieve your goals and do what is best for your entire family. Call us today at (919) 661-4970 or reach out online for an initial case consultation.