You Can Voluntarily Establish Paternity in the Hospital
The AOP Process
- Unmarried parents have the opportunity to sign a form called the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) prior to discharge from the hospital.
- This is a no cost, simple and convenient method used by most unmarried parents in Virginia to place the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.
- Parental permission is not needed for minors to voluntarily establish paternity in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- You do not need to be a US citizen to sign this form and your information is confidential.
- Signing an AOP form does not affect benefits such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or Medicaid.
- Paternity establishment and custody are two separate issues. Under most circumstances, when a child is born to unmarried parents, the child lives with the mother and she maintains legal custody. Either parent may seek visitation rights through the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court system in the county in which the custodial parent resides.
- In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you may name your child anything you like regardless of your marital status.
- You will need a current proof of identification as the AOP form must be notarized to complete the process.
Cost and Mailing Instructions
Both pages must be returned together to VPEP, P.O. Box 8270, Richmond, VA 23226; originals only! The fee for amending the birth certificate (AOP) is $10.00 and the cost per certificate is $12.00. Make checks or money orders payable to: The State Health Department.
DO NOT SEND CASH through the mail. METHOD OF PAYMENT – CHECK or MONEY ORDER ONLY.
Things To Keep In Mind
- Only fill out this form after the child is born and if you were not married at the time of your child’s birth. If you were married to anyone, even if your husband is not the father of your child, you must go through the courts to have the biological father’s name added to the birth certificate.
- This is a legal document and needs to be treated as such. This means, no cross-outs or whiteout on any portion of the document and you must use black ink. Please fill the form out completely, to ensure that the Division of Vital Records approves it.
- Fill out the name of the child exactly as it appears on the birth certificate on line 1.
- Required elements for both Mother and Father are the dates of birth, places of birth-State or Foreign Country, Social Security Number (fill in all 9s if you do not have one) and race.
- Line 22- If you do not want to change the last name of the child, then fill in the same name as in line 1.
- If the child is less than 31 days old, the parents may change the last name of the child from the mother’s last name to the father’s last name. For example: If the mother’s last name is Smith and she named the child John Smith at the time of birth and now wants to change the child’s last name so that it is the same as the father’s, she may do so in line 22.
- Simply fill in the last name of the father in line 22. Line 22 is what the name will appear as on the birth certificate. If the child is more than 31 days old the parents must petition the court in order to have the child’s last name changed.
- You must have your signature notarized at the bottom of the form. Do not sign the form unless you are in the presence of a Notary Public or the Office of Vital Records will not approve the form. A photo ID is required when you go to the notary.
If you have any other questions, please call us toll free at 1-866-398-4841.