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Maryland paternity: What is an affidavit of parentage?

In Maryland, paternity can be established in one of two ways: through genetic testing or by volunteering parentage. For fathers who are ready to willingly accept parentage, an affidavit of parentage must be signed. By doing this, paternity can be recognized fairly quickly, allowing fathers the ability to fight for time with their children.

Signing an affidavit of parentage must be done voluntarily; it is not something that can or should be forced. Those who would rather establish paternity through genetic testing will need to seek a court order. Regardless of how paternity is determined, once it is recognized by the state, fathers can then be held responsible for the personal and financial care of their children. The level of care and accountability will vary based upon individual circumstances.

After an affidavit of parentage is filed, the signer has 60 days to rescind if desired. After the 60 day period has expired, a court order will have to be sought to rescind the document. This is usually only done if the affidavit proves to be fraudulent, was signed under duress or any other mistake of fact is found. By choosing to rescind an affidavit of parentage, the father is willingly giving up all rights to the child -- but this must be approved in court before any responsibility for the child is removed.

An affidavit of parentage is generally signed in good faith, when a father truly believes that a child is his and he wants to pursue a parent/child relationship. For potential fathers in Maryland, before signing such a document it may be wise to seek legal counsel in order to learn more about the responsibilities that follow signing this document and any potential consequences as well. In some cases, going the route of genetic testing in order to establish paternity may be advised.

Source: dhr.state.md.us, "Affidavit of Parentage: Rights and Responsibilities", Accessed on Feb. 24, 2016

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