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Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) is a way to name the legal father without having to go to court if the parents are not married. Ordinarily, when the parents of a child are not married, Family Court issues an order naming the legal parent of the child. When determining a Voluntary Acknowledgement of paternity, each parent must make his or her own decision. If both parents agree to sign the acknowledgement form, paternity is established very easily.
Acknowledging paternity is important for the child because the child may be able to get some benefits as a legal dependent of the parent. Some of these benefits may be social security, veteran's benefits, disability, health care coverage and inheritance, in addition to the positive psychological benefits.
When an acknowledgement is properly signed, it conclusively establishes the man's paternity of the child, unless either parent rescinds the acknowledgement within 60 days of filing with the Office of Vital Statistics (OVS).
The form can only be signed after the child is born and it can be signed at the hospital or anytime until the child turns 18, or 19 if the child is still in high school. There is no fee for signing the acknowledgement form and it will allow the other parent's name to be placed on the birth certificate.
Only the biological parents should sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form. If you are not sure, do not sign the Acknowledgement. Instead, you should have a paternity test, sometimes called genetic testing. Please contact the nearest child support office for information about testing. If the mother was married during the 300 days before the birth of the child, OR if the mother was not married, but during the first two years from the birth of the child, another man continuously lived with the child and acknowledged the child as his own, then that man is considered to be the presumed father. In order for the mother and biological father to complete the Voluntary Acknowledgement, the mother and the presumed father must complete a form called the Denial of Paternity (DOP). Both the Denial of Paternity (DOP) and the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) must be filed with the Office of Vital Statistics (OVS). Neither document is valid until both have been filed. If a couple wishes to sign a VAP but are not sure who the biological father is, genetic testing should be obtained.