This topic contains information on the following subjects:
The opportunity to voluntarily declare paternity for a child is made available to parents in North Carolina birthing hospitals. In accordance with the provisions of G.S. 110-132(a), designated hospital staff provide parents with an explanation of the administrative paternity establishment process, the effect of acknowledging paternity, other available options, and parental rights and responsibilities. The mother and the natural father then have an opportunity to sign an Affidavit Of Parentage For Child Born Out Of Wedlock (DHHS-1660). This form, which is identical to the Affidavit Of Parentage (DSS-4697) used by N.C. CSS, contains the following:
1. A sworn statement by the mother consenting to the assertion of paternity by the father and declaring that the named man is the child's natural father;
2. A sworn statement by the named name, declaring that he believes he is the natural father of the child;
3. Information explaining the effect of signing the Affidavit and an acknowledgment of receipt of this information; and
4. The Social Security numbers of the mother, the father, and child and other demographic data for these individuals.
Resources such as the video "It Takes Two" and the Paternity Establishment Process Brochure (DSS-7021) are used by birthing hospitals to provide information to parents. Hospitals receive brochures by requesting them from the local CSS agency.
After the Affidavit Of Parentage is signed by both parents, the name of the child's father is entered on the birth certificate. Unless this admission of paternity is rescinded by either parent, in accordance with G.S. 110-132, it has the same effect as a judgment of paternity for the purpose of establishing a child support obligation.
Because N.C. law at G.S. 130A-101 requires that the mother's husband be listed as the father on a child's birth certificate, if the mother is married to someone other than the natural father of the child, the parents sometimes elect not to sign an Affidavit at the hospital. If an Affidavit is signed in this circumstance, it does not establish the man who signed as the child's father. Judicial action is required to remove the legal father and adjudicate paternity. The signed Affidavit can be used as evidence in this action.
The statute also provides that if the father's name is entered on the child's birth certificate, the parents can agree upon the surname of the child. If no agreement exists between the parents or the father's name is not present on the birth certificate, the child's surname is the same as the mother's.
Hospitals are required to file the certificate of birth with the local registrar in the county where a birth occurs within five (5) days after the birth. Local registrars receive, organize, and review these records for accuracy before forwarding hard copies of the birth certificate and any signed affidavits to N.C. Vital Records. The State Registrar then verifies and files these records. The practice of most birthing facilities is to electronically transmit birth record information to N.C. Vital Records at the time they send it to the local registrar.
Affidavits Of Parentage are distributed by the birthing facility as follows:
To determine whether an Affidavit Of Parentage has been signed at the hospital, CSS workers can:
If paternity is not established at birth, parents can voluntarily establish paternity for their child by signing the Affidavit Of Parentage (DSS-4697).
Before signing, a parent must be advised of the following:
This information must be presented in both oral and written forms. The oral presentation can be either live or in videotaped format.
CSS must review the document and complete any missing information by typing or writing it on the form. N.C. Vital Records requires that all data be present on the Affidavit.
CSS must have the parent sign the Affidavit before an Assistant Clerk of Court or Notary Public.
Within five (5) days of completion, CSS sends the original signed Affidavit Of Parentage to N.C. Vital Records for inclusion in the birth record. The signed Affidavit has the same legal effect as a judgment of paternity for the purpose of establishing a child support obligation. A Certificate Of Paternity (AOC- CV-611) is not needed when paternity is established by affidavit. It is not necessary to file the Affidavit with the court at this time.
CSS must provide a copy of the completed Affidavit to each parent, retain a copy in the CSS case file, and enter a finding of paternity in the case record.
When any subsequent action for support is filed with the court, CSS attaches a copy of the Affidavit Of Parentage as evidence that paternity is not at issue.
If the entry of a paternity or support order occurs prior to the 60-day allowance for rescission of a paternity admission, the option to rescind is blocked. For more information, see “Voluntary Paternity Rescission”.
Multiple potential sources exist where CSS caseworkers can obtain copies of birth certificates. To expedite case processing, it is important for CSS to consider time, cost, and purpose when selecting a source.
If the client can provide a copy, this is often the preferred method. A copy from county DSS could also be available. If these sources are not productive, other sources such as the county Register of Deeds or state Vital Records agencies might be appropriate.
Caseworkers can manually request a birth certificate for a child who was born in North Carolina, another state/U.S. territory, or another country. Written requests are made by sending a Manual Birth Certificate Request (DSS-4526) to the appropriate agency.
CSS workers can submit manual requests for the birth certificate of a child who was born in N.C. to the Register of Deeds in the county of the child's birth. The Register of Deeds can provide a birth certificate earlier than the 60-day period after the birth of a child that is required by N.C. Vital Records, usually within two (2) days of the request and at a minimal cost. However, the Register of Deeds cannot provide an Affidavit of Parentage.
Copies of birth certificates and Affidavits of Parentage for children born in North Carolina are initially available from N.C. Vital Records within sixty to ninety (60-90) days following the child's birth. Requests for copies that are received by N.C. Vital Records earlier than this are honored as soon as the forms are available.
CSS workers can make an electronic request for birth record documents through ACTS to N.C. Vital Records at any time after the child is sixty (60) days old. Either a birth certificate, an Affidavit of Parentage, or both documents can be requested. Electronic requests are processed within four to five (4-5) business days.
Prior to the 60-day waiting period, a request by CSS to N.C. Vital Records for birth record documents must be made manually. After that period, either manual or electronic requests can be submitted. Manual requests are processed within ten (10) days. If a manually-generated request includes an Affidavit Of Parentage, CSS must write the additional request on the letter.
A nonrefundable $24.00 fee is charged for each birth record search, whether the request is for certified copies, photocopies, or one or both birth record documents. The fee is charged even if no record is found
NOTE: Although certified copies of birth record documents are not required to pursue paternity, documents received from N.C. Vital Records might or might not be certified.
CSS sends out-of-state birth certificate requests to Vital Records in the child(ren)'s birth state/territory. Fees and requirements vary from state to state. Several states currently require a photocopy of the requestor's driver license. Per G.S. 20-30(6), a black and white photocopy of a driver license, learner's permit, or special identification card can be reproduced. However, it is unlawful to make color photocopies.
When a birth certificate is needed for a child who was born in another country, CSS sends the request to the other country's vital statistics agency.
CSS workers can make an electronic birth certificate request to N.C. Vital Records for North Carolina-born children after the child is sixty (60) days old. Caseworkers can request a birth certificate, an Affidavit Of Parentage, or both
A court hearing is not always necessary to establish a finding of paternity. For example, the client and NCP could have signed an Affidavit of Parentage. It is still necessary to record the paternity finding.
NOTE: If the paternity finding results in a paternity and support order, caseworkers must update the case with the court order. If the paternity finding results in a Paternity-Only order, caseworkers must also enter the order on the CSS case, although there are NO financial provisions.
After entering the order information, caseworkers change the paternity status for the child(ren) whose paternity was at issue for the case (whether or not a support obligation was established.)
An admission of paternity made by signing an Affidavit of Parentage is considered final unless it is rescinded by either parent. Rescission is permissible up to sixty (60) days from the date of signing, unless an order establishing paternity or support is issued earlier than sixty (60) days.
To rescind an admission of paternity, the challenging party must complete and file with the court a Motion And Notice Of Hearing To Rescind Affidavit Of Parentage (AOC-CV-916M), accompanied by a copy of the signed Affidavit Of Parentage, within sixty (60) days of the date of signing.
NOTE: The AOC-CV-916M can be obtained by the challenging party from the Clerk of Court. This form is not available in ACTS and is not to be completed by the caseworker.
It is the responsibility of the challenger to serve notice on all parties in a case, including the child support agency, in accordance with Rule 4 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. If the court orders rescission of the paternity admission, the Clerk of Court must send a copy of that order to the State Registrar of Vital Records. The father's name is then removed from the birth certificate. If the requesting party fails to appear or present the issue, the court must find the putative father to be the legal father of the child.
Filing usually occurs in the rescinding party's county of residence; however, N.C. law does not require that rescission requests be made in any specific county. It might be appropriate to inquire of the parties or ask the Clerk of Court to search the AOC Civil Case Processing System (VCAP), if reason exists to believe that a rescission request has been made. A report of any rescission is included in all future birth records requested from N.C. Vital Records.
After more than sixty (60) days have passed since the signing of the Affidavit of Parentage, paternity can only be challenged in court on the basis of fraud, duress, mistake, or excusable neglect. The burden of proof is on the challenging party. If a support obligation exists, it is not suspended during the challenge, except for good cause.
After a request to rescind an admission of paternity is granted by the court, if the mother again names the same putative father, paternity establishment activities would proceed as though no action had previously occurred. It is probable that paternity testing and/or a civil paternity action would be appropriate in this situation.
An admission of paternity that resulted from an alleged father/NCP signing the Affidavit of Parentage can be rescinded within sixty (60) days of the signature.
When notified that the NCP has filed a Motion And Notice Of Hearing To Rescind Affidavit Of Parentage with the Clerk of Court, caseworkers must document the hearing date in ACTS.
When the court orders a rescission of paternity, caseworkers change the paternity status of each child who is affected by the rescission in ACTS.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.