The Rights of Unmarried Parents - Rhode Island

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Definitions

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 15-8.1-102; 15-8.1-401

'Acknowledged parent' means a person who has established a parent-child relationship. 'Adjudicated parent' means a person who has been adjudicated by a court to be a parent of a child. 'Alleged genetic parent' means a person who is alleged to be a genetic parent or possible genetic parent of a child whose parentage has not been adjudicated. The term includes either a genetic birth parent or a genetic other parent.

'Determination of parentage' means establishment of a parent-child relationship by a judicial or administrative proceeding or signing of a valid acknowledgement of parentage.

'Parent' means a person who has established parentage that meets the requirements of this chapter. 'Parentage' means the legal relationship between a child and a parent as established under this chapter.

'Presumed parent' means a person who is presumed to be the parent of a child under § 15-8.1-401, unless the presumption is overcome in a judicial proceeding, a valid denial of parentage is made under article 3 of this chapter, or a court adjudicates the person to be a parent.

A person is presumed to be a parent of a child if any of the following apply:

  • The child's parents are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage.
  • The child's parents were married to each other and the child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage is terminated.
  • The child's parents married each other after the child's birth, and the person at any time asserted parentage of the child and agreed to be and is named as the child's parent on the child's birth certificate.
  • The person resided in the same household with the child, and the person and the child's birth parent openly held out the child as that person's own from the time the child was born and for 2 years thereafter and assumed personal, financial, or custodial responsibilities for the child.

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 15-8.1-301; 15-8.1-304; 15-8.1-305

The following persons may sign an acknowledgment of parentage to establish parentage of a child:

  • A person who gave birth to the child
  • A person who is the alleged genetic parent of the child

The acknowledgment shall be signed by both the person who gave birth to the child and by the person seeking to establish a parent-child relationship, shall be witnessed and signed by at least one other person, and shall contain the following statements:

  • That the child whose parentage is being acknowledged does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated other than the person who gave birth to the child
  • That the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of an adjudication of parentage of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances and is barred 2 years after the effective date of the acknowledgment unless there is another genetic parent who could not reasonably have known about the birth of the child and commences a proceeding within 2 years after learning of the child's birth

Completed forms for acknowledgment of parentage shall be filed with the State Registrar for Vital Records. An acknowledgment of parentage may be signed before or after the birth of a child. The acknowledgment takes effect on the date of the child's birth or the filing of the document with the State registrar, whichever occurs later.

A valid acknowledgment of parentage filed with the State registrar is equivalent to an adjudication of parentage of a child and confers upon the acknowledged parent all the rights and duties of a parent.

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 15-8.1-111; 15-8.1-201; 15-801-501; 15-8.1-603; 15-18.1-604

A person may admit parentage of a child when making an appearance or during a hearing to adjudicate parentage of the child.

A person may establish parentage by any of the following:

  • Giving birth to the child
  • An effective voluntary acknowledgment of parentage
  • An adjudication of parentage, including adjudications based on an admission of parentage
  • A presumption of parentage
  • An adjudication of de facto parentage
  • An adjudication that an alleged genetic parent is a parent

The court shall adjudicate the person who claims to be a de facto parent to be a parent of the child if the person demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence the following:

  • The person resided with the child as a regular member of the child's household for a significant time.
  • The person engaged in consistent caregiving of the child.
  • The person undertook full and permanent responsibilities of a parent of the child without expectation of financial compensation.
  • The person held out the child as the person's child.
  • The person established a bonded and dependent relationship with the child that is parental in nature.
  • The person and another parent of the child fostered or supported the bonded and dependent relationship.
  • Continuing the relationship between the person and the child is in the best interests of the child.

In a proceeding to determine parentage, the court shall order the child and any other person to submit to genetic testing if a request from a person does either of the following:

  • Alleges a reasonable possibility that the person is the child's genetic parent
  • Denies genetic parentage of the child and states the facts establishing a reasonable possibility that the person is not a genetic parent

A person shall be identified as a genetic parent of a child if the results of testing disclose that the person has at least a 99-percent probability of parentage.

Required Information

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 15-8.1-104; 15-8.1-310

A person who is a party to a parentage action shall disclose their Social Security number to the court. The court shall disclose the person's Social Security number to the Office of Child Support.

The Department of Vital Records shall develop an acknowledgment of parentage form. The form shall provide notice of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of, and the rights and responsibilities that arise from signing the acknowledgment and shall state the following:

  • There is no other presumed parent of the child or, if there is another presumed parent, shall state that parent's full name.
  • There is no other acknowledged parent or adjudicated parent other than the person who gave birth to the child.
  • The signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a court adjudication of parentage of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances.

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 15-8.1-307; 15-8.1-308

A signatory may rescind an acknowledgment of parentage by commencing a court proceeding before the earlier of either of the following:

  • Sixty days after the effective date of the acknowledgment
  • The date of the first hearing before a court in a proceeding, to which the signatory is a party, to adjudicate an issue relating to the child, including a proceeding that establishes child support

If an acknowledgment of parentage is rescinded, any associated denial of parentage becomes invalid, and the Department of Human Services shall notify the following:

  • The person who gave birth to the child
  • Any person who signed a denial of parentage of the child
  • The Department of Vital Records that the acknowledgment of parentage has been rescinded

After the period for rescission has expired, a signatory of an acknowledgment of parentage may commence a proceeding to challenge the acknowledgment only as follows:

  • Based on fraud, duress, coercion, threat of harm, or material mistake of fact
  • Within 2 years after the acknowledgment is effective

If an acknowledgment of parentage has been made, a person who is neither the child nor a signatory to the acknowledgment who seeks to challenge the validity of the acknowledgment and adjudicate parentage shall commence a proceeding within 2 years after the effective date of the acknowledgment unless the person did not know and could not reasonably have known of their potential parentage due to a material misrepresentation or concealment, in which case the proceeding shall be commenced within 2 years after the discovery of the person's potential parentage. The court may permit the proceeding only if the court finds that the proceeding is in the best interests of the child.

Access to Information

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-8.1-311

The Department of Health may release information relating to an acknowledgment of parentage under § 15-8.1-301, as set forth in § 23-3-23.