Voluntary paternity acknowledgment is a simple process 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 for parents who are sure who the biological father is.
When both parents are sure who the father is they can complete a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form. The form is a legal document so signing it is very serious and brings with it rights and responsibilities.
- North Dakota’s birthing hospitals. Most often, a voluntary paternity acknowledgment is completed in the hospital within three days of the child’s birth.
- Contact Vital Records for assistance
- Contact Child Support for assistance
- Federal and state laws require that unmarried parents receive an verbal description of the rights, responsibilities, and legal consequences fo voluntarily acknowledging paternity before the parent sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form.
Yes. Unmarried parents of any age may sign a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form.
Yes. The form may be completed before the child is born. It takes effect when it is filed with Vital Records or when the child is born, whichever occurs later.
Yes. Under state law, a North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form can be completed for a child who was not born in North Dakota.
If the mother was married to another man when the child was born (or within 300 days before the child was born), the mother, biological father, and husband must all sign the 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.
No. There is no fee for filing the form.
- If the form is completed at the hospital when the child is born, the father’s name is automatically recorded on the child’s birth certificate.
- If the form is not completed at the hospital but is completed before the child’s first birthday, the father’s name is recorded on the birth certificate.
- If the form is completed after the child’s first birth day, Vital Records will charge a small fee to record the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.
No. If either parent has any doubt about who the biological father is, the form should not be completed. Instead, genetic testing should be pursued. Genetic testing is available from Child Support at no cost when you are receiving Full Services. Contact Child Support to learn more.
The form is a legal document so signing it is very serious. You may be ordered to pay child support and provide health insurance for the child when you voluntarily acknowledge paternity. You are also giving up certain rights such as:
- The right to have an attorney represent you.
- The right to have genetic testing (DNA testing) to show whether or not you are the child's biological father.
- The right to have a court determine if you are the child’s biological father.
An “undo” requires legal action. There are two options:
- Rescind – within 60 days of filing the Acknowledgment of Paternity either parent may cancel his or her acknowledgment by commencing legal action.
- Challenge – within 2 years of filing the Acknowledgment of Paternity either parent may challenge the acknowledgment on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact by commencing legal action.
Child Support cannot assist with a Rescind or Challenge.
Q: I’m going to have a baby and I’m no longer seeing the baby’s biological father. My new boyfriend wants to put 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 a way to establish paternity between a child and the child’s biological father. The form should only be signed by the mother and biological father. Voluntary paternity acknowledgment is not a substitute for adoption.
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.
Q: When I got divorced a few years ago, I kept my ex-husband’s last name. My boyfriend and I are having a baby. He won’t be available to sign the North Dakota Acknowledgment of Paternity form when the baby is born because he’s deployed overseas with the military. I don’t want my baby to have my last name because it’s the same as my ex-husband’s. Can I give my baby my boyfriend’s last name 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 last name must be the same as the mother’s legal name 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 what name they want the child to have. Vital Records will update the child’s birth record accordingly.