Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 63.2. Welfare (Social Services)
Chapter 19. Child Support Enforcement

Article 3. Paternity.

§ 63.2-1913. Administrative establishment of paternity.

The Department may establish the parent and child relationship between a child and a man upon request, verified by oath or affirmation, filed by a child, a parent, a person claiming parentage, a person standing in loco parentis to the child or having legal custody of the child, or a representative of the Department or the Department of Juvenile Justice. The request may be filed at any time before the child attains the age of eighteen years.

Pursuant to subsection F of § 63.2-1903, the Department may summons a parent or putative parent to appear in the office of the Division of Child Support Enforcement to provide such information as may be necessary to the proceeding.

Paternity may be established by a written statement of the father and mother made under oath acknowledging paternity or scientifically reliable genetic tests, including blood tests, which affirm at least a ninety-eight percent probability of paternity. The Department may order genetic testing and shall pay the costs of such tests, subject to recoupment from the father, if paternity is established. Where an original test is contested and additional testing is requested, the Department may require advance payment by the contestant.

Before a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is accepted by the Department as the basis for establishing paternity, the Department shall provide to both the mother and the putative father a written and oral description of the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity and the consequences that arise from a signed acknowledgment, including the right to rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of (i) sixty days from the date of signing or (ii) the date of entry of an order in an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child in which the signatory is a party.

A genetic test result affirming at least a ninety-eight percent probability of paternity shall have the same legal effect as a judgment entered pursuant to § 20-49.8. When sixty days have elapsed from its signing, a voluntary statement acknowledging paternity 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 paternity 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.

The order of the Department in proceedings pursuant to this section shall be served upon the putative father in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 8 (§ 8.01-285 et seq.) or Chapter 9 (§ 8.01-328 et seq.) of Title 8.01. The Department shall file a copy of its order determining paternity, including the information required by subsection D of § 20-49.8, with the State Registrar of Vital Records within thirty days after the acknowledgment becomes binding and conclusive or the order otherwise becomes final. No judicial or administrative proceeding shall be required to ratify an unchallenged acknowledgment of paternity nor shall the Department or the courts have any jurisdiction over proceedings to ratify an unchallenged acknowledgment.

1997, cc. 792, 896, § 63.1-250.1:2; 2002, c. 747; 2023, cc. 570, 571.

§ 63.2-1914. Hospital paternity establishment programs.

Each public and private birthing hospital in the Commonwealth shall provide unwed parents the opportunity to legally establish the paternity of a child prior to the child's discharge from the hospital following birth, by means of a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity signed by the mother and the father, under oath.

Birthing hospitals are defined as hospitals with licensed obstetric-care units, hospitals licensed to provide obstetric services, or licensed birthing centers associated with a hospital. Birthing centers are facilities outside hospitals that provide maternity services.

Designated staff members of such hospitals shall provide to both the mother and the alleged father, if he is present at the hospital, (i) written materials regarding paternity establishment, (ii) the forms necessary to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, (iii) a written and oral description of the rights and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity, and (iv) the opportunity, prior to the child's discharge from the hospital, to speak with staff who are trained to provide information and answer questions about paternity establishment. The provision by designated hospital staff members of the information required by this section, consistent with federal regulations, shall not constitute the unauthorized practice of law pursuant to Chapter 39 (§ 54.1-3900 et seq.) of Title 54.1.

Hospitals shall send the original acknowledgment of paternity containing the social security numbers, if available, of both parents, with the information required by Article 2 (§ 32.1-257 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 32.1, to the State Registrar of Vital Records so that the birth certificate issued includes the name of the legal father of the child.

The Department shall (a) provide to birthing hospitals all necessary materials and forms, and a written description of the rights and responsibilities related to voluntary acknowledgment of paternity; (b) provide the necessary training, guidance and written instructions regarding voluntary acknowledgment of paternity; (c) annually assess each birthing hospital's paternity establishment program; (d) pay to each hospital an amount determined by regulation of the Board for each acknowledgment of paternity signed under oath by both parents; and (e) determine if a voluntary acknowledgment has been filed with the State Registrar of Vital Records in cases applying for paternity establishment services.

1994, c. 718, § 20-49.9; 1997, cc. 792, 896; 2002, c. 747.