What Is an Acknowledgement Of Paternity?

In recent years, increasing numbers of unmarried couples have had children together. Consequently, paternity has become an issue, especially in relation to child custody and support matters. Texas has passed a number of laws to clarify and help resolve paternity issues.

An Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) has the purpose of legally establishing parentage and is a documented statement by the biological father of his intention to become the child’s legal father. It is equivalent to a court adjudication of paternity. Both the mother and father sign the AOP. In effect, the AOP reflects the father’s commitment to paying child support and grants custody or visitation if the father is not living with the mother and child.

How to obtain an AOP?

The Attorney General of Texas website provides this phone number, (866) 255-2006, for parents living out-of-state who wish to get assistance completing an AOP over the phone.

A family law attorney also can help you obtain an AOP or answer your questions. Basically, the process involves filling out an AOP form, which you or your attorney files with a local certified facility, such as a child support office or local birth registrar. Parents can handle an AOP before or after the child’s birth. If done before birth, parents can have the certified entity process the form and give them an entity code. After childbirth, the parents can fill in additional information. Or parents can go to the child support office or birth registrar and fill out all the information after the child is born.

The advantages of having an AOP are the same as with other legal agreements. An AOP documents the relationship by putting it in writing and helps couples avoid conflicts over paternity later down the line.

However, be sure to contact an experienced child custody lawyer to discuss the matter first. Every case is different and may require a different approach. For instance, cases where the mother is married to someone else, there is a question about the true biological father, and many other issues, DNA tests might be necessary — and certainly are always advisable.

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