TITLE administration

Part 3. OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Chapter 55. CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT

Subchapter J. VOLUNTARY PATERNITY ACKNOWLEDGMENT PROCESS

1 TAC §§55.401 - 55.407

The Office of the Attorney General proposes new §§55.401 - 55.407, concerning voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. These new sections are being proposed to provide the opportunity for fathers and mothers to voluntarily establish paternity for their child(ren) through any local child support office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division; the Bureau of Vital Statistics; a local birthing hospital or birthing center; or any entity certified by the Office of the Attorney General to provide such services.

Howard G. Baldwin, Deputy Attorney General for Child Support, has determined that for the first five years these sections as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications for state or local government as a result of any replacement in these sections.

Mr. Baldwin has also determined that each year of the first five years the sections are in effect, the public benefit anticipated as a result of replacing or deleting the sections is a more standardized and efficient way to establish paternity. There will be no effect on small businesses. There are no anticipated economic costs to persons who are required to comply with the proposed sections.

Comments on these proposed sections may be submitted to Kathy Shafer, Child Support Enforcement Division, General Counsel Section, Office of the Attorney General, (physical address) 5500 East Oltorf, Austin, Texas,78741 or (mailing address) P.O. Box 12017, mail code 039, Austin, Texas, 78722-2017.

The new sections are proposed under the September 1, 1999 statutory changes, found in the Texas Family Code, Chapter 160, Subchapter C, Acknowledgment or Denial of Paternity.

The Code affected by these new sections is Health and Safety Code, Section 192, Record of Acknowledgment of Paternity.

§55.401.Scope.

Fathers and mothers who wish to voluntarily establish paternity for their child may do so through any local child support office of the Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division; the state Bureau of Vital Statistics; a local birthing hospital or birthing center; or any entity certified by the Office of the Attorney General to provide such services. The Acknowledgment of Paternity must be executed according to the rules contained herein and under the Texas Family Code, Chapter 160, Subchapter C, Acknowledgment or Denial of Paternity. Entities that are required by law to provide paternity establishment services and entities that wish voluntarily to provide paternity establishment services must abide by the rules of this subchapter.

§55.402.Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(1)

Acknowledgment of Paternity form - An agreement affirming parentage for a child signed by both the man claiming to be the father and the mother, that is executed on a form prescribed by the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The mother and father may sign separate acknowledgments before or after the birth of the child.

(2)

Denial of Paternity form - A statement executed by a presumed father denying parentage of the child of whom he is presumed to be the father, on a form prescribed by the state.

(3)

Certified entity - An agency, organization, or individual that is certified by the Office of the Attorney General to perform voluntary paternity establishment services. The certified entity must comply with all rules established for such certification.

(4)

Presumed father - A man who is legally assumed to be the father of a child because he meets the criteria found under Texas Family Code §151.002.

§55.403.Forms.

The certified entities offering voluntary paternity establishment services may obtain the prescribed Acknowledgment of Paternity and Denial of Paternity forms by contacting the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

§55.404.Voluntarily Acknowledging Paternity.

(a)

A man claiming to be the father and the mother may establish paternity before or after the birth of their child by voluntarily acknowledging paternity through a certified entity providing such services. The mother and father must read the Acknowledgment of Paternity form. In addition, both must listen to or view a video presentation of the rights and responsibilities of a parent, and alternatives to and legal consequences of acknowledging or denying paternity. Both the mother and father, separately or together, must then:

(1)

complete an Acknowledgment of Paternity form;

(2)

sign it before a witness;

(3)

return the form to a certified entity.

(b)

Both mother and father must present to the certified entity a valid driver license or another document (preferably a photo I.D.) to verify identity.

(c)

The certified entity is responsible for filing the Acknowledgment of Paternity form with the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

§55.405.Denial of Paternity Form.

If the mother declares in the Acknowledgment of Paternity form that there is a presumed father of the child, the acknowledgment must be accompanied by a Denial of Paternity form signed by the presumed father, unless the presumed father is the man who is acknowledging paternity. The Bureau of Vital Statistics will not accept the Acknowledgment of Paternity form for filing without the Denial of Paternity form, unless the presumed father is the man who has signed the Acknowledgment of Paternity form.

§55.406.Entities that May Provide Paternity Establishment Services.

All public and private birthing hospitals, all birthing centers, and the state Bureau of Vital Statistics are required to provide voluntary paternity establishment services, but only after being certified by the Office of the Attorney General. The following entities may provide voluntary paternity establishment services at their option, but only after being certified by the Office of the Attorney General:

(1)

local birth registrars;

(2)

public health clinics;

(3)

private health care providers;

(4)

certified nurse midwives;

(5)

documented midwives;

(6)

agencies providing assistance or services under Title IV, Part A of the Social Security Act, agencies providing food stamp eligibility service, and agencies providing child support enforcement (IV-D) services;

(7)

Head Start, child care facilities, and individual child care providers;

(8)

community action agencies and community action programs;

(9)

secondary education schools;

(10)

legal aid agencies;

(11)

private attorneys; and

(12)

any public or private health, welfare or social services organization.

§55.407.Certification.

All birthing hospitals, all birthing centers, the state Bureau of Vital Statistics, and each certified entity must have staff who:

(1)

provide the mother and father the opportunity to voluntarily acknowledge paternity;

(2)

provide the mother and father an opportunity to speak, either by telephone or in person, with staff who are trained to clarify information and answer questions about paternity establishment;

(3)

are trained by Office of the Attorney General staff at least once yearly on the requirements for voluntarily establishing paternity. (The training is not to exceed eight (8) hours at locations throughout the state established by the Office of the Attorney General and Bureau of Vital Statistics.)

(4)

use only the Acknowledgment of Paternity and Denial of Paternity forms promulgated by the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

(5)

use the brochures and training manuals, including the oral and written information, provided by the Office of the Attorney General and the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

(6)

are periodically evaluated by the Office of the Attorney General.

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State, on December 27, 1999.

TRD-9909041

Elizabeth Robinson

Assistant Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General

Earliest possible date of adoption: February 6, 2000

For further information, please call: (512) 460-6134