The Rights of Unmarried Parents - Virgin Islands

Date:

Definitions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 292

Parentage may be voluntarily established through the execution of an acknowledgment of parentage. The acknowledgment of parentage shall be the exclusive means to voluntarily establish parentage of children born out of wedlock outside of the court and administrative process as set out in this chapter.

An acknowledgment of parentage, if completed in compliance with the requirements of this section, shall be considered a conclusive legal finding of parentage with the same force and effect as a court or administrative adjudication of parentage and without the necessity of a court or hearing officer ratification.

All birthing hospitals and facilities shall provide the biological parents of children born out of wedlock, with focus on the period immediately before or after the birth of a child, with the opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge parentage of such child through the signing of an acknowledgment of parentage.

Any acknowledgment of parentage completed pursuant to this section, whether at a birthing hospital or facility or any other specified location, shall be filed with the appropriate Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics within 30 days of signing.

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 293

Proceedings under this chapter may be instituted by the following:

  • Any resident of the Virgin Islands who has delivered an out-of-wedlock child
  • Any resident of the Virgin Islands who is alleging to be the other parent of an out-of-wedlock child
  • Any legal custodian of an out-of-wedlock child

Proceedings can be instituted at any time before a child's 18th birthday.

Proceedings are commenced by the filing of a petition before the court alleging that the person named as the respondent, or the petitioner if the petitioner is a person alleging to be the child's other parent, is the other parent of the child born out of wedlock. If both parties to a proceeding appear before the court and consent to the establishment of parentage of a child born out of wedlock, a respective order establishing parentage shall be issued.

In a contested parentage action, the court, on its own motion or on the motion of any party to the action, shall order the birth parent, the putative other parent, and the child to submit to blood, genetic, or DNA tests by a duly qualified physician or laboratory.

Test results shall constitute a conclusive presumption of parentage if the results indicate a statistical probability of parentage of 99 percent or higher.

Required Information

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 292

The acknowledgment of parentage must be sworn to or affirmed by both parents of a child born out of wedlock before a duly authorized notary public.

The acknowledgment of parentage shall include a written notice of the alternatives to, legal consequences of, and the rights (including, if a parent is a minor, any rights afforded to minority status) and responsibilities that arise from signing the acknowledgment of parentage. This notice must be provided in writing and orally to both signatories prior to signing the acknowledgment of parentage.

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 292

An acknowledgment of parentage is subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within 60 days of the date of signing. The rescission is accomplished by filing a notarized request to rescind with the Paternity and Child Support Division, Department of Justice.

Any challenge to the acknowledgment of parentage after the expiration of the 60-day rescission period must be filed in the court and shall only be based on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the challenger. The legal responsibilities of any signatory that may arise under the acknowledgment of parentage may not be suspended during the court challenge unless the court finds good cause.

Access to Information

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 292

The court and the Paternity and Child Support Division shall forward a copy of all judicial or administrative adjudications of parentage, whether based on consent or not, to the appropriate Office of Vital Statistics. The office shall maintain a record of all acknowledgments of parentage and all judicial and administrative adjudications of parentage and shall make such record available to the Paternity and Child Support Division in a manner consistent with applicable Federal law and regulations.