An Acknowledgement of Paternity, or AOP, form allows an unmarried father to accept responsibility for his newborn child. This form is often available in Texas hospitals and birthing facilities. However, before signing an AOP, it’s important for men to have a clear understanding of the potential benefits and drawbacks of doing so.
Child custody and visitation rights are not guaranteed
Signing an AOP does not automatically grant a father visitation or child custody rights. More often than not, even with an AOP, these rights will have to be awarded by the court. Separate legal procedures are usually necessary for determining the terms of visitation and custody.
Signing an AOP allows a father to accept responsibility for child support
Fathers who sign AOPs after their children are born are accepting responsibility for the payment of child support. This document also gives them the right to use their legal last names for their children on their birth certificates. However, should unmarried fathers ever question the paternity of their children, they’ll need to file a Rescission of the Acknowledgment of Paternity form to have their AOPs invalidated.
With a signed AOP, a father will be notified of adoption proceedings
There are other important fathers’ rights gained by signing an AOP. For instance, signing an AOP form keeps unmarried fathers in the loop concerning the legal adoption of their children by outside parties. By legally establishing paternity, men can make sure that their children aren’t moved through adoption proceedings without their knowledge and without their ability to intervene.
When paternity is questioned, signing an AOP early on may not be the best decision. Although these documents are legally binding, they can be invalidated if paternity fraud is suspected or if they’ve been signed by minors. Due to their potential long-term ramifications, AOPs and other legal documents pertaining to children born out of wedlock should be fully understood before signing.