What is “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” in Tennessee?

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2024 | Fathers Rights |

Having a child is a life-changing event, and for unmarried fathers, it comes with concerns about legal rights and responsibilities. Navigating your new territory can be overwhelming, but resources exist to help you take an active role in your child’s life.

One valuable tool for unmarried fathers in Tennessee is the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAoP). It is a process that allows you to establish your legal fatherhood, cementing your rights as a dad.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity explained

A VAoP is a simple form that you and your child’s mother sign stating you are the father. By signing the form, you may assume legal responsibility for your child, including their financial support.

However, it also grants you several critical rights, including:

  • Having your name listed on the birth certificate
  • Having a say in major decisions for your child
  • Having fair access to your child (visitation and custody)

The VAoP process is also beneficial for the child. With a legally established father, the child becomes entitled to:

  • Health insurance benefits from the father
  • Social Security benefits in case of your death or disability
  • Inheritance rights

The VAoP form can be completed at the hospital when the child is born or later at your local health department or child support office. But before signing a VAoP, ensure you are the biological father. If there is any doubt, DNA testing can offer proof.

Learn more

Completing a VAoP right after the baby is born is a simple way to protect your parental rights. In more complex situations or if the mother resists, legal guidance can strengthen protections for dads wanting to secure a permanent place in their child’s life.