The Rights of Unmarried Parents - Virginia

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Definitions

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1202(D)

A person shall be presumed to be the other parent of a child if any of the following applies:

  • The person and the child's birth parent are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage.
  • The person and the child's birth parent were married to each other and the child is born within 300 days of their date of separation, as evidenced by a written agreement or decree of separation, or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce.
  • Before the child's birth, the person and the child's birth parent married each other in apparent compliance with the law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of their date of separation or within 300 days after its termination.

Such presumption may be rebutted by sufficient evidence that would establish by a preponderance of the evidence the parentage of another person or the impossibility or improbability of cohabitation with the birth parent for a period of at least 300 days prior to the child's birth.

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1249; 63.2-1250

A Virginia Birth Father Registry is established by the Department of Social Services. Any person who has engaged in sexual intercourse with a birth parent is deemed to be on legal notice that a child may be conceived and that the person is entitled to all legal rights and obligations resulting therefrom. Lack of knowledge of the pregnancy does not excuse failure to timely register with the registry. A person who desires to be notified of a placement of a child for adoption or a proceeding for termination of parental rights regarding a child that may be their genetic child shall register with the registry within 10 days of the child's birth. Registration is complete when the signed registration form is first received by the department.

Failure to register timely with the registry shall waive all rights of a person who is not acknowledged to be, presumed to be, or adjudicated to be the child's other parent to withhold consent to an adoption proceeding, unless the person was led to believe through the birth parent's misrepresentation that (i) the pregnancy was terminated or the birth parent miscarried when in fact the baby was born, or (ii) the child died when in fact the child is alive. Upon discovery of the misrepresentation, the person shall register with the registry within 10 days. However, registration shall be untimely if 180 days have elapsed from the date the circuit court entered the final order of adoption.

A person will not compromise any rights by failing to register if either of the following apply:

  • A parent-child relationship between the person and the child has been established or if the person is a presumed other parent.
  • The person commences a proceeding to adjudicate their parentage before a petition is filed with the court to accept consent or waive consent to an adoption or to terminate their parental rights.

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code § 20-49.1

The parent and child relationship between a person and a child may be established by either of the following:

  • Scientifically reliable genetic tests, including blood tests, affirm at least a 98-percent probability of parentage.
  • A voluntary written statement of the person and birth parent made under oath acknowledges parentage and confirms that prior to signing the acknowledgment the parties were provided with a written and oral description of the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging parentage and the consequences arising from a signed acknowledgment, including the right to rescind.

Written acknowledgments of parentage made under oath by the person and birth parent prior to July 1, 1990, shall have the same legal effect as a judgment entered pursuant to § 20-49.8.

Required Information

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1250

The department shall prepare a form for registering that shall require:

  • The registrant's name, date of birth, and Social Security number
  • The registrant's driver's license number and State of issuance
  • The registrant's home address, telephone number, and employer
  • The name, date of birth, ethnicity, address, and telephone number of the putative mother, if known
  • The State of conception
  • The place and date of birth of the child, if known
  • The name and gender of the child, if known
  • The signature of the registrant

The form also shall state the following:

  • Timely registration entitles the registrant to notice of a proceeding for adoption of the child or termination of the registrant's parental rights.
  • Registration does not commence a proceeding to establish parentage.
  • The information disclosed on the form may be used against the registrant to establish parentage.
  • Services to assist in establishing parentage are available to the registrant through the department.
  • The registrant also should register in another State if conception or birth of the child occurred in another State
  • Information on registries of other States may be available from the department.
  • The form is signed under penalty of perjury.
  • Procedures exist to rescind the registration of a claim of parentage.

A registrant shall promptly notify the registry of any change in information, including change of address. The department shall incorporate all updated information received into its records, but is not required to request or otherwise pursue current or updated information for incorporation in the registry.

The department shall prepare a form for registering that shall require the following:

 

  • The registrant's name, date of birth, and Social Security number
  • The registrant's driver's license number and State of issuance
  • The registrant's home address, telephone number, and employer
  • The name, date of birth, ethnicity, address, and telephone number of the putative birth parent, if known
  • The State of conception
  • The place and date of birth of the child, if known
  • The name and gender of the child, if known
  • The signature of the registrant

The form also shall state the following:

  • Timely registration entitles the registrant to notice of a proceeding for adoption of the child or termination of the registrant's parental rights.
  • Registration does not commence a proceeding to establish parentage.
  • The information disclosed on the form may be used against the registrant to establish parentage.
  • Services to assist in establishing parentage are available to the registrant through the department.
  • The registrant also should register in another State if conception or birth of the child occurred in another State.
  • Information on registries of other States may be available from the department.
  • The form is signed under penalty of perjury.
  • Procedures exist to rescind the registration of a claim of parentage.

A registrant shall promptly notify the registry of any change in information, including change of address. The department shall incorporate all updated information received into its records but is not required to request or otherwise pursue current or updated information for incorporation in the registry.

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Ann. Code § 20-49.1

An acknowledgment of parentage may be rescinded by either party within 60 days from the date on which it was signed unless an administrative or judicial order relating to the child in an action to which the person seeking rescission was a party is entered prior to the rescission.

A written statement shall have the same legal effect as a judgment entered pursuant to § 20-49.8 and shall be binding and conclusive unless, in a subsequent judicial proceeding, the person challenging the statement establishes that the statement resulted from fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact. In any subsequent proceeding in which a statement acknowledging parentage is subject to challenge, the legal responsibilities of any person signing it shall not be suspended during the pendency of the proceeding, except for good cause shown.

Access to Information

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1251

The department is not required to locate the birth parent of a child who is the subject of a registration, but the department shall send a copy of the notice of registration to the birth parent if an address is provided.

Information contained in the registry is confidential and only may be released on request to any of the following:

  • A court or a person designated by the court
  • The birth parent of the child who is the subject of the registration
  • An agency authorized by law to receive such information
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • A support enforcement agency
  • The child's guardian ad litem
  • A party or the party's attorney of record in an adoption proceeding or in a proceeding for terminating parental rights
  • A putative father registry in another State
  • A local department of social services for the purpose of establishing parentage of a child accepted for placement by a local board pursuant to § 63.2-900