The Rights of Unmarried Parents - District of Columbia

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Definitions

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-909

There shall be a presumption that a person is the other parent of a child if any of the following apply:

  • The child's parents are or have been married or in a domestic partnership at the time of either conception or birth or between conception and birth, and the child is born during the marriage or domestic partnership or within 300 days after the termination of marital cohabitation or domestic partnership by reason of death, annulment, divorce, or separation.
  • Prior to the child's birth, the child's parents have attempted to marry, and some form of marriage has been performed in apparent compliance with the law, though the attempted marriage is or might be declared void for any reason, and the child is born during the attempted marriage or within 300 days after the termination of the attempted marital cohabitation by reason of death, annulment, divorce, or separation.
  • After the child's birth, the child's parents marry or attempt to marry with the attempt involving some form of marriage ceremony that has been performed in apparent compliance with the law, though such attempted marriage is or might be declared void for any reason, and the other parent has acknowledged the child to be theirs.
  • The putative other parent has acknowledged parentage in writing.

A presumption of parentage may be overcome upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that the presumed parent is not the child's genetic parent. The court may determine that the presumed parent is the child's parent, notwithstanding evidence that the presumed parent is not the child's genetic parent, after giving due consideration to the following:

  • Whether the conduct of the birth parent or the presumed genetic parent should preclude that party from denying parentage
  • The child's interests
  • The duration and stability of the relationship between the child, the presumed genetic parent, and the birth parent

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-909.03

Each public and private birthing hospital in the District of Columbia shall operate a program that, immediately before and after the birth of a child, provides the following to each unmarried person who gives birth at the hospital and, if present in the hospital, the alleged genetic parent:

  • Written materials concerning parentage establishment
  • Forms necessary to acknowledge parentage voluntarily that meet the Federal requirements
  • A written and oral description of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of, and the rights and responsibilities that arise from signing a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage
  • Written notice that a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage is not in effect unless the birth parent and putative genetic parent each signs the form under oath and a notary authenticates the signatures
  • The opportunity to acknowledge parentage voluntarily in the hospital

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-2342.01; 16-909.01

A voluntary acknowledgment of parentage shall do the following:

  • Create a conclusive presumption of parentage that shall be admissible as evidence of parentage
  • Be recognized as a basis for seeking a child support obligation without requiring any further proceeding to establish parentage

Parentage may be established by either of the following:

  • A written statement of the other parent and birth parent signed under oath that acknowledges parentage, provided that before the parents sign the acknowledgment, both have been given written and oral notice of the alternatives to, legal consequences of, and the rights and responsibilities that arise from signing the acknowledgment
  • An affidavit from a laboratory with the result of a genetic test of a type generally acknowledged as reliable by accreditation bodies designated by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is performed by a laboratory approved by such a body, which affirms at least a 99-percent probability that the presumed other parent is the genetic parent of the child

An acknowledgment that has not been rescinded or a genetic test and affidavit that meet the requirements of this section shall legally establish the parent-child relationship between the genetic parent and the child for all rights, privileges, duties, and obligations under the laws of the District of Columbia. The acknowledgment or genetic test and affidavit shall be admissible as evidence of parentage.

Required Information

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-909.01

The acknowledgment shall include the following:

  • The full names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth of the parents and the child
  • The addresses of the parents
  • The birthplace of the child
  • An explanation of the legal consequences of the affidavit
  • A statement indicating that both parents understand their rights, responsibilities, and the alternatives and consequences of signing the affidavit
  • The place the affidavit was completed
  • Signature lines for the parents
  • Any other data elements required by Federal law

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-909.01

A signatory to a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage may rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of 60 days or the date of an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child in which the signatory is a party.

Access to Information

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-909.03

The birthing hospital shall transmit each completed voluntary acknowledgment of parentage form to the Registrar of Vital Records within 14 days of completion. The registrar shall promptly record identifying information from the form and permit the IV-D agency timely access to the identifying information and any other documentation recorded from the form that the IV-D agency needs to determine if a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage has been recorded and to seek a support based on the recorded voluntary acknowledgment of parentage.