Signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity Form

Man Signing Form

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One way for a father to accept responsibility for their child is by signing an acknowledgment of paternity (AOP) form after the child is born. The acknowledgment of paternity guarantees a father certain rights. However, other parental rights are not guaranteed by signing an acknowledgment of paternity.

Let's explore more information regarding parental rights as it pertains to the acknowledgment of paternity.


An unmarried father should sign an acknowledgment of paternity form to establish legal paternal rights to a child. Without a signed AOP, an unmarried father does not have rights to a child and would have to go to court to establish paternity at a later time.

If parents cannot agree on signing an acknowledgment of paternity, they may need to later participate in a court hearing in order to establish paternity. If paternity is proven after the birth certificate is issued, the certificate can be changed based on the court's findings.


An acknowledgment of paternity will require some basic information including the child's full name, mother's full name, and father's full name. The father's date of birth, address, and Social Security number are also needed. The AOP must be signed and notarized by both parents. Some states require the AOP to be witnessed by two uninterested parties.

Rights Guaranteed

By signing the AOP, certain legal paternal rights are established. The father will have the guaranteed right to be responsible for child support, the right to use their last name for the child on the child's birth certificate, and the right to be consulted in the event of an adoption proceeding regarding the child.

Rights Not Guaranteed

Certain rights are not guaranteed when signing an acknowledgment of paternity. One is child custody—in most states, parents who sign an AOP are not guaranteed the right to child custody. If a father wants to seek custody of a child or visitation rights, they will have to do so in a separate procedure.

Where to Find an AOP

Parents can voluntarily sign an AOP at the hospital or facility when a baby is born. Paternity may also be established at a later point after the child is born. To do so, parents can complete the AOP by forwarding the documentation to the appropriate state agency that handles vital records.

Parents who would like more information should look up additional resources pertaining to their particular state about paternity, child support, and child custody. For other specific state information, parents should speak with a qualified attorney in their state.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. LeMance K. Voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. LegalMatch.

  2. United States Department of Health and Human Services. The rights of unmarried fathers.

By Debrina Washington
Debrina Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues.