8.2.2 Paternity - Voluntary Acknowledgment
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA) required each State to implement an in-hospital voluntary paternity acknowledgment process. In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA). PRWORA expanded and added new statutory requirements for each State’s simple civil process for parents of children born out of wedlock to establish paternity. The voluntary paternity program shall meet certain minimum requirements that include:
Providing due process safeguards for all participants including minors;
Specifying the signature of both the mother and alleged father are required on a form approved by the State (e.g. in Wyoming, the form is called the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity);
Giving both a written and oral explanation of the legal implications of signing a paternity acknowledgment to the mother and alleged father;
Ensuring both parents have the opportunity to ask questions about the acknowledgment process;
Requiring the participation of all hospitals and birthing facilities;
Forwarding of completed documents to one entity in the State (e.g. in Wyoming, completed acknowledgments are forwarded to Vital Records Services within the Department of Health); and
Providing information and training materials to other entities around the State that work closely with pregnant women or new parents.
The Wyoming CSE Program in conjunction with Vital Records Services worked closely with the Wyoming legislature to implement the Wyoming voluntary acknowledgment program in 1997 and in 2003 made significant statutory changes to the voluntary acknowledgment program based upon the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) of 2002. Some of the major changes include:
Requiring court intervention to rescind the acknowledgment;
Adding reasons the acknowledgment may be void to the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity;
Allowing a presumptive father to deny paternity under limited circumstances utilizing a new Affidavit Denying Paternity; and
Stating a valid acknowledgment of paternity is equivalent to an adjudication of paternity.
On an on-going basis, the Wyoming CSE Program and Vital Records Services meet with hospitals in Wyoming to ensure the voluntary paternity acknowledgment program is offered to appropriate parents. In 2008, the Wyoming CSE Program contracted for a Paternity Program Specialist to oversee the Wyoming CSE’s voluntary paternity acknowledgment program.
Paternity Acknowledgment Program
In Wyoming, the Paternity Acknowledgment Program takes a three-pronged approach where the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity may be provided by Vital Records Services, Wyoming hospitals, or District CSE Offices to parents of children born out of wedlock.
In order for the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity to be valid, the affidavit will:
Be in writing and signed by both parents before a notary.
State that the child whose paternity is being acknowledged:
Does not have a presumed father unless the presumed father is also signing an Affidavit Denying Paternity; or
Does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated father.
Indicate whether a genetic test has been completed, and if so, the test results are consistent with the signing of the acknowledgment.
Provide notice to both signatories that the acknowledgment is equivalent to a judicial adjudication of paternity; and, a challenge to the acknowledgment is only permitted under limited circumstances; and, is barred after 2 years.
Note: The legal consequences of the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity will not only be provided in writing but also orally.
The Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is void if the affidavit:
Indicates another man is the presumed father, unless the presumed father signs an Affidavit Denying Paternity or a court order rebutting the presumption is filed with Vital Records Services;
States another man is the acknowledged or adjudicated father of the child; or
Falsely denies the existence of a presumed, acknowledged, or adjudicated father for the child.
The State CSE Office is responsible for ensuring each hospital in Wyoming understands the purpose of the paternity acknowledgment program and for monitoring hospital performance. Through the in-hospital paternity acknowledgment program, Wyoming hospital staff will:
Provide an unmarried mother and alleged father with an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity;
Ensure the mother and alleged father receive the notice of legal consequences of signing the affidavit in writing and orally;
Supply a notary for the affidavit process; and
Forward the completed acknowledgment/denial forms to Vital Records Services. The Birth Certificate is sent electronically from the hospital to Vital Records.
District CSE Office
District CSE Offices will have access to both the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity and the Affidavit Denying Paternity and will facilitate the simple civil process of acknowledging paternity in the District CSE Office by providing all required information to parents of children born out of wedlock, answering any questions asked by the parents, working with parents in delicate situations where a presumed father shall also sign an Affidavit Denying Paternity, and mailing completed documents to Vital Records Services within 24 hours of completion. See Appendix 8.C – Paternity Acknowledgment Procedures for the procedures each District CSE Office will follow.
The following are the Wyoming CSE Program rules regarding an acknowledged father as defined by Wyoming statutes and the appropriate legal action to take.
If there is an acknowledged father, the case worker will determine paternity is already established and file a child and medical support only action as discussed in 8.3 Child Support and 8.4 Medical Support.
If there is an acknowledged father and an alleged father, the case worker will determine paternity is already established in favor of the acknowledged father, and file a child and medical support only action against the acknowledged father as discussed in 8.3 Child Support and 8.4 Medical Support.
If there is an acknowledged father and an adjudicated father, the case worker will determine paternity is already established in favor of the adjudicated father, and file a child and medical support only action against the adjudicated father as discussed in 8.3 Child Support and 8.4 Medical Support.
If there is an acknowledged father and a presumed father, the case worker will discuss the case with the District CSE Office attorney to determine next steps.
Please see Appendix 8.A – Paternity Establishment Legal Action Rules for a table with the appropriate legal action for each paternity option.
Last Revised Date
July 1, 2014