The Rights of Unmarried Parents - Mississippi

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Definitions

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-21-105

A 'parent' is the person to whom the child has been born or the other natural parent or the person by whom the child has been legally adopted.

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Ann. Code § 93-9-28

The Department of Health in cooperation with the Department of Human Services shall develop a form and procedure that may be used to secure a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage from the birth parent and other parent of any child born out of wedlock in Mississippi.

The form shall clearly state that the execution of the acknowledgment of parentage shall result in the same legal effect as if the parents had been married at the time of the birth of the child. The form also shall clearly indicate the right of the alleged other parent to request genetic testing through the Department of Human Services within 1 year and shall state the adverse effects and ramifications of not availing themself of this one-time opportunity to definitively establish the parentage of the child. When such form has been completed according to the established procedure and the signatures of both parents have been notarized, then such voluntary acknowledgment shall constitute a full determination of the legal parentage of the child.

The completed voluntary acknowledgment of parentage shall be filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health. The name of the other parent shall be entered on the child's certificate of birth upon receipt of the completed voluntary acknowledgment.

Upon the birth of a child out of wedlock, the hospital, birthing center, midwife, or other birth attendant shall provide an opportunity for the child's birth parent and natural other parent to complete an acknowledgment of parentage by giving the parents the appropriate forms and information.

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code § 93-17-6

Any person who is alleged or claiming to be the genetic parent of a child born out of wedlock who is proposed for adoption or any person who has been determined to be an alleged other parent by any administrative or judicial procedure may file a petition for determination of rights as a preliminary pleading to a petition for adoption in any court that would have jurisdiction and venue of an adoption proceeding. A petition for determination of rights may be filed at any time 30 days after the birth of the child.

The sole matter for determination of rights is whether the alleged other parent is the child's genetic parent based on Mississippi law governing parentage or other relevant evidence. If the court determines that the alleged other parent is not the genetic parent of the child, they shall have no right to object to an adoption under § 93-17-7.

If the court determines that the alleged other parent is the child's genetic parent and that they object to the child's adoption, the court shall stay the adoption proceedings to allow the filing of a petition to determine whether the other parent's parental rights should be terminated pursuant to § 93-15-119 or other applicable provision of the Mississippi Termination of Parental Rights Law.

Required Information

Citation: Ann. Code § 93-9-28

The departments shall provide for obtaining the Social Security numbers of both parents on voluntary acknowledgments.

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code § 93-9-28

A signed voluntary acknowledgment of parentage is subject to any signatory's right to rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of either of the following:

  • One year
  • The date of a judicial proceeding relating to the child, including a proceeding to establish a support order, in which the signatory is a party

After the expiration of the 1-year period, a signed voluntary acknowledgment of parentage may be challenged in court based only on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the challenger. The legal responsibilities of any signatory arising from the acknowledgment, including child support obligations, may not be suspended during the pendency of the challenge, except for good cause shown.

During the 1-year time, the alleged other parent may request genetic testing through the Department of Human Services. The 1-year time limit for the right of the alleged other parent to rescind the signed voluntary acknowledgement of parentage shall be tolled from the date the alleged other parent files their formal application for genetic testing with the department until the date the test results are revealed to the alleged other parent by the department.

Access to Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.